ARLINGTON, Va. – Strategies for fighting terrorism can be found in Boston’s successful gang-prevention efforts and in the resolution of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, former Boston Police Commissioner Kathleen M. O’Toole said today.
“Whether Republican dissidents in Northern Ireland, gang members in Boston or LA, or young Muslims facing poverty or prejudice in the UK, many of them are totally disaffected. We need to identify the most vulnerable and engage with them,” she said.
O'Toole, who has been chief inspector of Ireland’s national police since 2006, talked about lessons from Boston in her address to a gathering of intelligence analysts and others who use sophisticated data analysis software to track criminals and terrorists.FULL ENTRY
An anti-spending group has issued an economic assessment of Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney.
The conservative Club for Growth today released its fifth white paper on the GOP candidates.
It is available at the group's website.
Just days after announcing his presidential bid, Mitt Romney says not to expect him to hit the campaign hustings too hard anytime soon.
“Right now, your greatest enemy is overexposure," he told CNN's Piers Morgan in his first major TV interview since his announcement. "People get tired of seeing the same person day in and day out."
"People are going to start focusing on the elections probably after Labor Day," he added. "And until Labor Day hits, I'm going to be pretty quiet."
Being quiet for Romney became easy tonight. In fact, he was supposed to be on the show for the full hour, but his time was more than cut in half to make room for coverage of a scandal involving Representative Anthony Weiner and his tawdry Tweets (almost as a counter-balance, Romney tonight tweeted a photo of him, his wife, Ann, and their son, Matt, eating takeout on a park bench in New York City).FULL ENTRY
Glen Johnson/Globe Staff
LOWELL The six Democrats who so far have declared they want to unseat US Senator Scott Brown next year blasted the Republican and mocked his service in "the people's seat" as they rallied delegates today at their party's annual convention.
"Scott Brown didn't make a mark in the Massachusetts Legislature and he isn't leaving any footprints in the United States Senate,'' said City Year co-founder Alan Khazei. ""We need a senator who leads."
Newton Mayor Setti Warren accused Brown of voting against the interests of Massachusetts men, women, and children.
"This is our senator, who even questions the science of global climate change," Warren said. "Is that someone who represents the values of our state?"
The crowd of roughly 3,000 delegates gathered at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell replied with a robust "no."
WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney tonight began a speech to a ballroom full of Christian conservatives by reaffirming his positions against abortion and gay marriage.
“We’re united tonight in a lot of things,” the former Massachusetts governor said at the start of a 13-minute address in a downtown hotel here. “We’re united in the love we have for this great country. We’re united in our belief in the sanctity of human life. We’re united in our belief in the importance and significance of a marriage between one man and one woman.”
Romney, who wrote a portion of the speech on a legal pad during a flight from Boston to Washington late this afternoon, then turned to the economic themes that are expected to drive his recently launched presidential campaign.FULL ENTRY
The head of Fiat-Chrysler said today that Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney must have been "smoking illegal material" when he argued in 2008 that the US auto industry could be resurrected without federal financial assistance.
During an interview with CNN, Sergio Marchionne, chief executive of Fiat and Chrysler, said government support was pivotal.
The comment contrasted with a 2008 op-ed column in which Romney urged the federal government not to provide an industry bailout but instead force automakers into a "managed bankruptcy."
MANCHESTER, N.H. Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney was headed from New Hampshire to Washington this afternoon so he could speak tonight at the Faith and Freedom Conference.
Just don't expect much talk about social conservative issues, which were the bane of his first campaign for the presidency in 2008.
Instead, advance excerpts show a reprise of the economic focus that permeated Romney's campaign kickoff speech yesterday.
It's part of his campaign's message-management the second time around:
“President Obama said that unemployment wouldn’t go beyond 8 percent. Today it is over 9 percent. We are going backwards, and that is the wrong direction for America. President Obama has failed.
“Unemployment is not just a statistic. Unemployment means kids can’t go to college; that marriages break up under the financial strain; that young people can’t find work and start their lives; and men and women in their 50s, in the prime of their lives, fear they will never find a job again. President Obama has failed these good and decent Americans.
“Sixteen million Americans are out of work or have stopped looking for work. Make no mistake. This is a moral tragedy - a moral tragedy of epic proportion.
"President Obama should have had one central mission when he took office - put Americans back to work! Fight for every job! Because every job is a paycheck and paychecks fuel Americans dreams. Without a paycheck, you can’t take care of your family. Without a paycheck you can’t buy school books for your kids, keep a car on the road or help an aging parent make ends meet.
“The debt we are amassing as a nation and passing on to our children is immoral. It was once said that we should pass a torch to the next generation. Instead, we are passing on an unpaid bill. Throwing more money at our problems is not the answer.”
MANCHESTER, N.H. Prospective Republican presidential contender Sarah Palin will continue her "One Nation" tour beyond Washington, D.C., and the New England states.
She said this morning that she plans to take her tour to Iowa and South Carolina, two early voting states.
She made the announcement after having breakfast in Portsmouth with US Senator Kelly Ayotte.
While Palin insisted her visit to the Granite State wasn't a poke in the eye to Mitt Romney as her potential rival held two days of events in New Hampshire, news of her visit trumped coverage of Romney’s formal announcement speech yesterday.
"Palin hits the Seacoast," blared a four-column headline in today's New Hampshire Union Leader.
A story about Romney's speech was relegated to Page A3.
Massachusetts Democrats are converging on Lowell this afternoon for the fun part of their annual convention: the convention-eve parties.
Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray is throwing a bash, while Senate candidates such as Alan Khazei and Marisa DeFranco are holding smaller receptions. The host committee is also having a party organized by former Lowell City Councilor Curtis LeMay.
In addition, there's a Young Democrats bash at the Brewery Exchange.
MANCHESTER, N.H. – In the first town hall of his freshly-announced presidential campaign, Mitt Romney this morning continued to offer a sharp critique of President Obama’s handling of the economy.
“Look he’s a nice guy, he’s well spoken - he could talk a dog off a meat wagon - and yet he hasn’t delivered,” the former Massachusetts governor said in a conference room at the University of New Hampshire’s campus here. “We’ve had three years now - at the beginning it was all George Bush - we’re not hearing a lot about George Bush now, by the way, as we’re seeing unemployment at nine percent plus. It went up again today.”
“He can’t keep blaming George Bush,” he added. “This is now his economy.”
It was the first time this year that Romney has faced a group of voters in the unscripted forums that New Hampshire prides itself on. About 100 people showed up to the event, bringing written questions to ask the candidate about issues he has not brought up himself: education, climate change, and abortion.FULL ENTRY
Glen Johnson/Globe Staff
STRATHAM, N.H. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney today publicly launched his second bid for the presidency with an outdoor speech at a farm in the lead primary state of New Hampshire.
1:16 p.m. - "I refuse to believe that America is just another place on the map with a flag," Mitt Romney told the crowd.
"We know we can bring country back," he said, before reprising a line from the movie, "The American President." "I'm Mitt Romney. I believe in America. And I'm running for president of the United States.
The declaration triggered a chorus of "Go, Mitt, Go."
With that, the speech was over.
1:12 p.m. - "Turning around a crisis takes bold action," Mitt Romney declares.
He says he will cap government spending at 20 percent of the budget and "finally, finally" balance the budget.
Then, channeling a famous Democrat, President John F. Kennedy, he says his generation will pass a torch to the next generation "not a bill."
He pledges his primary focus from Day One as president will be job-creation.
"You know, if you want to create jobs, it helps to have actually had a job and I have," he said.
Of course, Romney has joked that he has been unemployed since leaving the governor's office in January 2007.
1:09 p.m. - Unlike President Obama's European-style solutions, Romney is saying he will bring a CEO's acumen to the White House.
He recalls that he balanced the Massachusetts budget without taxes but fails to mention he also jacked up fees for a variety of services.
And, despite criticism from conservatives and some of his presidential contenders, Romney says his Massachusetts health care plan was "a state solution to a state problem."
1:04 p.m. - The speech is not much of a departure from what Mitt Romney has been saying for the past couple years.
Romney says he believes in a country of freedom and opportunity, propelled by entrepreneurship.
He complained that a newly inaugurated President Obama traveled the world, "apologizing" for America.
And he said the president is treating Israel "the same way so many European countries have, with suspicion."
1:01 p.m. - The audience applauds as Mitt Romney delivers the signature line of his announcement speech: "Barack Obama has failed America."
Three years later, he said, jobs are hard to come by, grocery and gas prices are up.
"It breaks my heart to see what is happening to our country," he said.
12:59 p.m. - Mitt Romney is lauding the country's history as a democracy, and a republic, not a monarchy.
"Who is it that rules this great nation?" he said. "You do."
The voters, in 17 months time, will choose who gives the State of the Union speech.
12:56 p.m. - Ann Romney is testfying to her husband as a partner, father, and problem-solver.
"That's why I have all the confidence in the world that this man standing next to me will be the next nominee for the Republican Party and will be the next president of the United States."
12:54 p.m. - Ann and Mitt Romney are taking the stage. She will introduce him.
"Thank-you; very generous," Mitt Romney said to Doug Scamman.
As he has said elsewhere this second campaign, Mitt Romney told the crowd, "Old friends."
12:53 p.m. - Doug Scamman, a former speaker of the New Hampshire House, is now introducing the Romneys.
The Scammans supported John McCain the last time around, and now they are with the proverbial party "next-in-line."
But Doug Scamman is citing Romney's business and civic background as the basis for his support.
"We need somebody in the White House who can work with everybody," Scamman said.
12:50 p.m. - The program is beginning with Stella Scamman saying hello and a 12-year-old leading the Pledge of Allegiance.
12:31 p.m. - Events are running behind schedule, as Mitt and Ann Romney greet their supporters amid a scrum of TV cameras...
12:22 p.m. - Former New Hampshire governor and Bush 41 White House Chief of Staff John Sununu is among those on hand.
12:11 p.m. - It IS a different kind of campaign the second time around.
Mitt Romney emerged the Doug and Stella Scamman's farmhouse clad in an open collar and lacking a suitcoat, and then he and his wife, Ann, made their way not to the stage for his announcement speech, but to a table of crockpots to serve her recipe of chicken-and-bean chili.
"Who wants some chili?" the candidate said as he served up heaping scoops.
12:04 p.m. - Ace campaign photographer Brooks Kraft reports the chili being served in conjunction with the announcement speech is fantastic.
Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom says volunteers had 36 crockpots in the campaign headquarters yesterday to cook chili according to Ann Romney's family recipe.
11:55 a.m. - They've brought the crowd in front of the stage to provide a populist scene for the announcement speech.
Old Romney hands Eric Fehrnstrom, Peter Flaherty, and Russ Schriefer are working through the crowd of supporters and reporters.
Also here is at least one of Mitt Romney's sons, Josh, a father of five who deals in real estate in Utah.
11:40 a.m. - For Republicans who like to criticize President Obama and his use of TelePrompTers, Romney will be speaking from one.
His campaign has also set-up a tripod just below his podium so it can get close-up shots for use in future videos and campaign commercials.
11:18 a.m. - It has been hard to blog from the site, with the wind whipping and the excessive glare from the sun as it jumps in and out of the clouds.
Nonetheless, the report begins: A crowd is assembling at the Scammans' farm, including New Hampshire politicos such as Tom Rath and former Massachusetts supporters including House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones Jr. He brought his father-in-law.
Groups of Romney aides, dressed in blue T-shirts with the campaign slogan "Believe in America" are racing around, completing last-minute preparations.
Mitt Romney was doing a handful a pull-aside interviews beforehand, including with the Fox New Channel's Sean Hannity and ABC News correspondent John Berman, whose network broadcasts over WMUR-TV, the dominant television station in New Hampshire.
Romey is slated to begin speaking about noon.
10:24 a.m. - The bucolic setting at Doug and Stella Scamman's Bittersweet Farm was leavened with blustery conditions in the aftermath of a tornado-laden weather system that blew through Romney's home state overnight.
Campaign workers had erected tents and sunscreens for a chili cookoff following the speech, but they dismantled them to avoid them going airborne.
In a nod to the setting, hay bales ringed the stage, media riser, and even the speaker stands.
Mitt Romney this morning is planning to announce his presidential bid by delivering a forceful speech that continues to criticize President Obama’s handling of the economy.
The former Massachusetts governor and Bain Capital executive will also seek to portray himself as the candidate with the know-how to get the country’s economy back on track.
“When Barack Obama came to office, we wished him well and hoped for the best,” Romney plans to say, according to excerpts of the speech. “Now, in the third year of his four-year term, we have more than promises and slogans to go by. Barack Obama has failed America.”
Democrats, meanwhile, are poised to continue focusing most of their own attacks on Romney, with plans for conference calls and the release of a new video tagging him as a wishy-washy politician. The video, called "Romney: Same Candidate, Different Positions," is being released this morning by the Democratic National Committee.FULL ENTRY
Glen Johnson/Globe Staff
SPRINGFIELD As Governor Deval Patrick announced yesterday that a UK-based company was adding up to 25 jobs in Massachusetts, the sunshine streaming into the State House Great Hall from the skylights above faded to black.
The governor finished his remarks, answered a couple questions from reporters in the hallway outside, and then headed off to an evening engagement.
In the elevator, he ran into another reporter who had not been at the event. He asked Patrick what he thought of the reported tornado out west, catching Patrick flat-footed.
It was then that he learned of the storms he would later declare had spawned at least two tornadoes and killed at least four people in Massachusetts.
Be sure to return to "Political Intelligence" before noon tomorrow for coverage as Mitt Romney's publicly declares his second campaign for the presidency.
My Globe colleague Matt Viser and I will be on hand at Doug and Stella Scamman's Bittersweet Farm in Stratham, N.H., for the speech and ensuing chili cookoff.
Ann Romney will be offering her signature campaign; does that stack the odds in her favor?
We plan to live-blog the pre-speech activities and announcement itself, wrap up Romney's remarks, and gather video to complement the coverage.
Massachusetts Democrats plan to focus on Republican Scott Brown and the record he has compiled in the US Senate during their annual convention in Lowell on Saturday.
According to an agenda released this afternoon, the party will also focus on building upon its 2010 achievements, including repelling a national GOP tide by reelecting an all-Democratic congressional delegation, as well as President Obama's 2012 reelection campaign.
The convention gavels to order at 10 a.m. at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell.
It will include remarks by Governor Deval Patrick and the state's other constitutional officers, as well as the four Democrats who have already declared their candidacy against Brown.
Mitt Romney is publicly announcing his second presidential campaign tomorrow in Stratham, N.H., and he'll get down to work fast.
His campaign committee has announced that he will hold a town hall meeting in Manchester, N.H., on Friday.
It will take place at the University of New Hampshire Manchester Campus at 8:30 a.m.
Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Sarah Palin’s mystery tour/summer vacation/media scavenger hunt is headed toward Boston, perhaps as soon as this afternoon.
The former Alaska governor, who has been visiting historic sites across the Northeast (and eating pizza with Donald Trump), as part of her One Nation bus tour, spent the morning in New York City, visiting Ellis Island.
Now, reporters for ABC News, CNN, and Real Clear Politics, who have been chasing after her bus, are reporting that she’s headed to Boston en route to New Hampshire, which holds the nation’s first presidential primary.
For anyone who listened to Mitt Romney during his first campaign for president, it’s no surprise that Olympic speedskater Dan Jansen attended the biggest fund-raiser to date for Romney’s second campaign.
Jansen became an international sports celebrity with his example of picking himself up after defeat and pushing on to victory.
It’s an example the former Massachusetts governor hopes to emulate starting tomorrow, when he publicly kicks off his 2012 White House bid.
While the dates of Kennedy deaths have been seared into the nation’s consciousness, the famed political family itself has a practice of focusing on birthdays.
It’s a more uplifting orientation, one that allows relatives to remember John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Edward M. Kennedy, and other departed family members on the terms in which they entered and served the world not the tragic events or illness that took them from it.
And so it was on Sunday, while many in the public were enjoying a round of golf, digging into a trashy beach novel, or breaking into provisions for the first barbeque of the summertime season.
JFK’s only daughter, Caroline, traveled to the presidential library named for her father to witness an announcement: The US Navy is going to name its next aircraft carrier in honor of the nation’s 35th president.
In less than 140 characters, Newton Mayor Setti Warren made a big announcement.
Just after 1 p.m. today, the Democratic Senate candidate announced he and his wife had a son.
"My wife Tassy and I are proud & excited to welcome our son, John David Warren into the world," said the mayor.
The couple already has a daughter, Abigail.
Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe
Republican Scott Brown may be a US senator now, but that hasn't stopped him from rekindling his roots as a state senator as he tries to stoke support for his 2012 reelection campaign.
Twice in recent weeks, Brown has issued statements condemning local Democrats amid the ongoing federal corruption trial of former House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi.
Yesterday, he did so after Governor Deval Patrick appeared on the witness stand, though Brown was careful not to single out the most powerful Democrat in the state by name.
Massachusetts Democrats and their counterparts in Washington are at odds over how best precisely to field a challenger to Republican Senator Scott Brown next year.
Governor Deval Patrick, who controls the Massachusetts Democratic Party, favors an organic process, with the candidate rising from a contested primary field.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which is charged with ensuring President Obama has the party majority he needs to pass his legislative agenda, is pointed toward landing a big-name candidate who can clear the field and take on Brown with maximum resources and minimum infighting.
Some of them haven't forgotten that Massachusetts Democrats took the blame when Brown surprised the 2010 state nominee, Martha Coakley, and cost the national Democrats their filibuster-proof majority in the US Senate.
Washington colleague Mark Arsenault and I looked at the dispute for a story in today's Globe.
DES MOINES – Updated, 5:31 p.m. Mitt Romney returned yesterday to the state that delivered to him a disappointing defeat in 2008, and once again began trying to woo Iowa caucus-goers for his nascent presidential campaign.
“It’s good to be home,” he said to an audience of about 200 here. “Ah, this isn’t exactly home, but it felt like it last time I was around.”
But his first high-profile event in the state – held at the State Historical Building, with about 200 people sitting on fold-out chairs eager to hear from the former Massachusetts governor -- was cut short by burning popcorn that triggered a fire alarm and an evacuation.
Governor Deval Patrick today traded the State House for the courthouse, testifying during the federal corruption trial of Salvatore F. DiMasi that the former House speaker repeatedly pressed him for a computer software contract and that he told his staff he would support it "if we could do it within the rules."
Prosecutors allege that DiMasi and his codefendants instead got kickbacks for getting the contract approved. Patrick is not accused on any wrongdoing.
The governor also vividly recounted how DiMasi became visibly upset in 2008 and accused the administration of being a leak after the Globe began reporting about the suspect contract.
The governor said the speaker demanded that he issue a statement saying DiMasi had no interest in the contract. Patrick said he refused.
"I said we couldn’t do that, because it wasn’t accurate,” the governor told the jury.
Appearing confident as he adjusted his microphone, the Harvard-trained lawyer smoothly answered questions for about 70 minutes the first time by a sitting governor since William F. Weld also did so during a corruption case in 1995.
At that time, then-state Senator Henri Rauschenbach was accused of accepting illegal payments from an investment banker. He was subsequently acquitted.
This is a corrected version of an earlier post. A correction is embedded in the story text below.
WASHINGTON – Despite weeks of speculation and lobbying by consumer groups, there will be no recess appointment of former Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren to head the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
That's because, technically, there will be no recess.
Through parliamentary maneuvering this week, Republicans were able to prevent the Senate from officially shutting down during its Memorial Day vacation next week. During the so-called "pro-forma'' session during vacation, President Obama will not have the power to circumvent Senate confirmation proceedings and make appointments to key posts.FULL ENTRY
Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff
The always-secure John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse took on the air of an armed camp this morning, as machine-gun toting US Marshals stood guard as Governor Deval Patrick arrived and departed after testifying in the federal corruption trial of former House speaker Salvatore DiMasi.
On a brilliant spring day cooled by a breeze off nearby Boston Harbor, a string of television trucks lined the street across from the Fan Pier building to broadcast reports morning, noon, and night.
The governor apparently arrived in his official Chevrolet Tahoe SUV, its tinted windows and trip down a side courthouse entrance obscuring its occupants. Aides, however, confirmed his arrival shortly after the trial resumed at 9 a.m.
DES MOINES – Mitt Romney is planning to announce next week what has been a poorly kept secret for months: he’s running for president.
The former Massachusetts governor is planning to make the announcement in New Hampshire, in an indication of just how vital the Granite State is to his second presidential bid.
Romney is planning to make the announcement next Thursday at an afternoon barbeque in Stratham, NH. It will be held at the Bittersweet Farm, the home of longtime Republican activists and state legislators Doug and Stella Scamman, and the menu is expected to consist of hot dogs, hamburgers, and a chili made from Ann Romney's special recipe.
"I think, by far, he's the most qualified in this race," Stella Scamman, who with her husband endorsed former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in 2008, said last night in an interview. "We're trying to invite a whole bunch of our friends to come and meet him."
The Scammans own a 200-acre farm that has played host to numerous political events in the past, including ones for President George H.W. Bush, President George W. Bush, Vice President Dan Quayle, and Senator Bob Dole.
Romney's campaign activities have seen a notable uptick in recent weeks, with visits around the country to raise money and stoke a political network that remains largely in tact from his 2008 campaign. Much of his efforts have been around fundraising, with the hopes of scaring away any would-be challengers, but his formal announcement next week indicates a transition into a more aggressive public phase of his campaign.
He is planning to make his first trip of the year tomorrow in Iowa, which will hold the first nominating contest of the year.
So far, though, Romney has placed far more emphasis on New Hampshire, as indicated by his choice to make his formal announcement there next week.
Romney also used New Hampshire as the backdrop for his announcement six weeks ago that he was forming a presidential exploratory, the first step in mounting a run. He recorded a video at the University of New Hampshire and released it on his website.
News of his formal announcement was first reported by the Union Leader in Manchester, and confirmed by a Romney spokeswoman.
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty announced this week in Des Moines that he was running for president. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former businessman Herman Cain also announced earlier this month that they was running. Several others, including former senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, are expected to announce their plans soon.
Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin is also planning a bus tour, starting on Sunday, that will travel from Washington up through New England. Some of her recent activities have stoked speculation that she'll enter the race.
MILFORD, N.H. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty today denounced the federal stimulus program, even though under his leadership his state benefited from billions of dollars of the federal aid.
During his first trip New Hampshire as an official candidate for president, the Republican also said for the first time that he could support Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program.
Pawlenty said he would publish his own plan with some differences, but, he said, “If that was the only bill that came to my desk and I wasn’t able to pass my own plan, I would sign it.”
WASHINGTON -- Democrats and some Republicans in the US House of Representatives sought to buck the White House today over the war in Afghanistan, illustrating growing impatience in Congress over the military’s role there since the death of Osama bin Laden earlier this month.
Representative James McGovern, a Worcester Democrat, spearheaded an effort with Republican co-sponsor Walter B. Jones of North Carolina to pass a measure that would require planning for a speedier withdrawal of troops from the nation where bin Laden plotted the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
The amendment to the defense authorization bill failed 204-215, but it gained far more than the 162 votes that it received last year when Democrats controlled the House. Both of the chamber’s Democratic leaders, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland , supported it, along with 26 Republicans.FULL ENTRY
WASHINGTON — National Democratic Party leaders are talking to “a number” of potential candidates about running against Republican Senator Scott Brown, and expect a frontline candidate to emerge soon, said the Democratic senator in change of recruitment.
“We believe that the state is one that we will win, and we expect to have a good strong candidate within weeks,” US Senator Patty Murray, Democrat from Washington, told reporters this morning in a briefing. Murray is head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which works to elect Democrats to the US Senate and to protect the party’s incumbents.
Brown, who won the Massachusetts seat in a special election in 2010, is a top political target of Democrats, who hold 53-47 advantage in the US Senate. Several Democratic seats could be in jeopardy next year, and the party hopes to defeat Brown to cushion losses elsewhere and maintain its majority.
Several Democrats have announced campaigns against Brown, though most of the state’s big names have passed on the race, such as Governor Deval Patrick. Democratic operatives worry about the ability of lesser-known candidates to compete against Brown, a national political figure with more than $8 million in his campaign account.
Murray declined to disclose names this morning, but speculation has been rampant about a possible campaign by Harvard professor and presidential advisor Elizabeth Warren, who has not ruled out a run.
Senator Scott Brown pushed a multi-pronged approach to job creation today in an op-ed column for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
The Massachusetts Republican called for congressional approval of trade agreements, boosting education, and promoting job re-training are all elements of the plan.
"This year, I have worked across the aisle on a targeted approach to boost our economy," Brown wrote. "As your senator, and a member of the Senate’s Manufacturing Task Force, I will continue to look for common sense economic policies that help create jobs. With the passage of these trade agreements, we can start to tear down some of the barriers holding us back."
Democrat John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today said China must do more to halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons and promote human rights given its growing economic power.
Speaking at the start of a confirmation hearing for Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, nominated to be the US ambassador to China, the Massachusetts senator said Locke will face a great challenge if approved by the Senate.
WASHINGTON Representative Barney Frank helped his then-companion land a job at mortgage giant Fannie Mae in the early 1990s at the same time Congress was writing legislation to improve oversight of the lender, according to New York Times reporter Gretchen Morgenson, who recently wrote a book examining the financial crises.
Frank was a member of the House Financial Services Committee in 1991 when he "actually called up the company and asked them to hire his companion, who had just gotten an MBA from the Amos Tuck School of Business," Morgenson said during a recent appearance on National Public Radio.
"Of course the company was happy to provide a job for his companion and rolled out the red carpet in a series of interviews with a variety of executives, and it ultimately did hire the man," she said. "And he stayed there for I believe seven years."
Governor Deval Patrick confirmed he will testify tomorrow in the federal corruption trial of former House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, while also defending the government's decision to purchase the type of software that has become the focal point of the case against the former State House leader.
Kicking off his monthly appearance on WTKK-FM, the governor confirmed he would be testifying but refused to say much else about the case.
“I'm going to respect the process," said Patrick. "We’ve cooperated with the process throughout, and I’m going and answer whatever questions they put to me, or do my best to do so, and I want to confine my testimony to the courtroom, because I think that’s what I’m supposed to do. When it's over, we can talk about it.”
MANCHESTER, N.H. Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich continues to back away from criticism he made earlier this month of Representative Paul Ryan's plan to overhaul Medicare, but at the same time he is stopping short of fully endorsing the plan.
Speaking at Derry Medical Center yesterday, Gingrich delivered an entire speech about health care without mentioning the overhaul, and then declined to take press questions about it.
Later in the day, at the Manchester home of former US Senate candidate Ovide Lamontagne, Gingrich said his words criticizing Ryan's plan were "clumsy."
Vice President Joe Biden today marked the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's speech about reaching the moon by complaining the United States has occasionally become "too incremental" instead of pursuing similarly big dreams.
The Democrat, speaking at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, recalled being an 18-year student at a Catholic boys school when the newly inaugurated president addressed Congress and laid down a monumental challenge.
"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth," Kennedy declared on May 25, 1961.
That goal was achieved in July 1969, nearly six years after Kennedy was assassinated, when the crew of Apollo 11 visited the moon and successfully returned home.
DERRY, N.H. Representative Paul Ryan’s plan to overhaul Medicare is causing controversy in Congress and likely contributed to yesterday’s defeat of a Republican House candidate in New York’s special election.
But speaking at Derry Medical Center in New Hampshire today, presidential candidate Newt Gingrich delivered an entire speech about health care without mentioning the overhaul, and then declined to take press questions about it.
Gingrich had previously criticized Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program, but the former House speaker backtracked after taking flak from his fellow Republicans.
When Senator John Kerry is in Washington or traveling the country and the world, his state director, Drew O'Brien, presides over his office back in Massachusetts.
Earlier today, Kerry had a chance to recognize his aide of nearly a decade, noting the passing of O'Brien's father Edward L. O'Brien of Marshfield earlier this month.
"Edward O'Brien was an extraordinary blessing to his family and to his friends, but also to the country he loved, when he served in the US Navy in World War II," Kerry said in remarks televised by C-SPAN.
He said Drew O'Brien perpetuated that example by "living the spirit of public service that his father instilled in him and all his family."
The Massachusetts Senate has begun debate on its version of the budget proposed for the state's 2012 fiscal year, which begins on July 1.
The Legislature has provided a link to watch live.
Governor Deval Patrick, House leaders and, now, Senate leaders have proposed their respective spending plans.
The House subsequently passed its budget, and now it's the Senate's turn.
Once a plan is approved, House and Senate leaders will appoint members to a conference committee that will be charged with reconciling differences between the plans.
At that phase, Patrick, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, and Senate President Therese Murray will help shape the outcome.
HENNIKER, N.H. Former New York Governor George Pataki today kicked off a New Hampshire advertising campaign aimed at pressuring President Obama and Republican presidential candidates to address the mounting national debt.
“President Obama has the worst fiscal record of any president in the history of our country,” Pataki said, speaking to around 65 people at New England College. “This year, we’ll have the largest deficit than in any year in the history of our country. …It’s not sustainable.”
In a companion interview with the Globe, Pataki said he was reconsidering his decision not to seek the 2012 GOP presidential nomination out of concern over government spending.
WASHINGTON — Elizabeth Warren is a Harvard professor and presidential adviser, but will she be a US Senate candidate, too?
Warren fever has ticked up a few degrees with this morning’s New York Times story reporting that Democratic Party officials are trying to persuade Warren to run against Republican US Senator Scott Brown next year. The law professor is currently working to set up a new federal regulatory agency to protect consumers, as called for in Wall Street reform laws.
In a brief interview yesterday, as she was rushing down a hallway after testifying on Capitol Hill, Warren offered the standard non-denial of interest in a Senate run: “I’m working on the consumer protection agency, that’s 14 hours a day, that’s what I’m working on,” she said.
HENNIKER, N.H. Former New York Governor George Pataki, who recently started an organization focused on reducing the federal debt, has not ruled out a 2012 presidential run.
The Republican said last month that he would not run, but he said today the recent decision of Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels to skip a campaign may prompt him to reconsider.
“I’m not a candidate at this point, but down the road, you never say never,” Pataki said during an interview after a speech at New England College. “I’m not running now. …We’ll see what happens over the course of the next month.”
Another New Yorker, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, is also weighing a campaign.
Mark Wilson for The Boston Globe
Governor Deval Patrick and state environmental officials today banded young bald eagles at the Quabbin Reservoir, a counting mechanism under the state's bald eagle restoration program.
The Quabbin is one of 34 bald eagle breeding sites across Massachusetts.
"It’s great to see the bald eagle making such a strong, steady resurgence here," Patrick said in a statement.
WASHINGTON — Americans have been pessimistic about the direction of the country for more than two years, yet a vast majority has been consistently happy and satisfied with their own lives during that time, according to polling results published by the Associated Press.
Pollsters often ask voters if they feel the country is on the right track or the wrong track.
Political experts often cite the right track/wrong track results as a measure of the mood of the nation. For example, in an AP poll conducted earlier this month, 45 percent of voters surveyed said the country is on the right track; 52 percent said America is going in the wrong direction. Those pessimistic results are actually an improvement over a year ago, when just 35 percent thought America was going in the right direction. In October 2008, just 17 percent thought America was on the right path.
But little-noted results from the series of AP polls suggest that the level of personal happiness in America has stayed remarkably stable through the recession and the painfully slow economic recovery.
Asked to “think about how things are going in your life in general,” 81-one percent of respondents this month reported being “very” or “somewhat” happy; just 14 percent said they were personally unhappy. Those numbers are virtually identical to results from a year ago, when 80 percent were happy and 14 percent unhappy. In fact, multiple surveys throughout the past two years show a remarkable consistency in the level of happiness in America, with the numbers rarely straying from the polls’ normal margin of error.
Mark Arsenault can be reached at email@example.com.
WASHINGTON -- There was plenty of speculation a few months ago that Mitt Romney would ignore Iowa in the 2012 election after a disastrous and expensive outcome there helped seal his fate in 2008.
But while he is not spending near the time or resources this time around – instead focusing more closely on New Hampshire and Nevada -- Romney’s strategy in this GOP presidential primary clearly does include the Hawkeye State. How much may become clearer this week as he travels to Des Moines for the first time since announcing his exploratory committee. He is scheduled to appear at a forum at noon Friday sponsored by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.
The former Massachusetts governor also announced today that he is naming Sara Craig as state director of his campaign. Craig was central Iowa field director for Romney in 2008. Romney named Phil Valenziano as state field director, according to a press release from the Romney for President Exploratory Committee.
Iowa’s caucus votes are very much up for grabs since former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee opted out of the presidential contest this month. Other candidates including Newt Gingrich have been spending far more time than Romney in Iowa. And Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor who is trailing in New Hampshire polls, announced his candidacy yesterday in Des Moines.
A Political Intelligence entry on Sunday incorrectly attributed to Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown a statement about the House Republican budget that appeared on a left-leaning news and opinion website, Talking Points Memo. The entry inaccurately presented the Talking Points Memo statement as a direct quotation by the Republican senator, while the statement was actually Talking Points Memo's interpretation of the senator's position.
IRMO, S.C. – Mitt Romney this afternoon assailed President Obama for not articulating a clear position on how he would reform Medicare – but then the former Massachusetts governor declined to articulate such a position himself.
The health care program for the elderly has become an increasingly hot-button issue in national politics and is bound to dominate debate in the 2012 presidential race. House Republicans recently passed a plan – spearheaded by Representative Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin – that includes drastic cuts to Medicare.
“Where’s our president’s plan? What would he do?” Romney told reporters today after meeting with small business owners at a plumbing company here. “Is he just going to sit on the side and accuse Paul Ryan of being un-America? I simply can’t understand how the president and his people can attack Republicans who are putting forward constructive ideas, when he hasn’t got an idea of his own.”
Still, Romney would not elaborate on what he himself would do, saying he’s still an undeclared presidential candidate and would give detailed proposals later. “I will be happy to describe my specific plan, but clearly at this stage that’s still a little premature,” he said.FULL ENTRY
WASHINGTON – A Massachusetts native and former Senator Edward M. Kennedy aide was tapped today to take the top post in coordinating the Democratic Party’s national convention.
Stephen J. Kerrigan, who also helped coordinate the Democratic convention when it was in Boston in 2004, has been named as chief executive officer overseeing the 2012 convention in Charlotte, N.C.
“It’s basically everything, start to finish,” he said in an interview.
Kerrigan, 39, grew up in Lancaster, Mass., and graduated from St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury (fun fact: Kerrigan was three years behind future Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray).
At 25, he was elected to the Lancaster Board of Selectmen, and later became Kennedy’s national political director. He was also chief of staff to Thomas F. Reilly, who was Massachusetts Attorney General.
Kerrigan is getting ready to move to Charlotte, where he’ll oversee all operations involving the convention – from security to transportation to housing.
“We’re very excited to bring the 2012 Democratic National Convention to Charlotte where we will re-nominate President Barack Obama,” Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said today in a statement. “The team we’ve put together to lead the Convention embodies the diversity and talent of the Democratic Party, and they’ll work closely with our partners in Charlotte to put on an event that showcases the progress President Obama and Democrats have made on behalf of the American people and our vision for the future.”
The Republicans are holding their convention in Tampa, Fla., and it’s no mistake that the Democrats chose Charlotte for their convention. North Carolina, which Obama carried narrowly in 2008, is expected to be a major battleground in the 2012 election.
WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney is the focus of the first attack ad of the 2012 presidential race, with an independent group run by former aides to President Obama tagging Romney as both a flip-flopper and a politician who would not protect Medicare.
“Mitt Romney says he's 'on the same page' as Paul Ryan, who wrote the plan to essentially end Medicare,” a narrator says, as dark, black and white images of the former Massachusetts governor flash across the screen. “But with Mitt Romney, you have to wonder...which page is he on today?"
The ad, which also tweaks Newt Gingrich, is going to be running in South Carolina just as Romney makes his first visit of the year to the state tomorrow.
The ad is being run by Priorities USA Action, a political action committee that is headed by President Obama’s former deputy press secretary, Bill Burton. The group can accept unlimited donations and is meant to counter Republican groups that were formed during the 2010 midterm elections. Those groups were criticized at the time by top Democrats, who have filed legislation to curb the influence of outside money in politics.
" President Obama and his team are desperate to change the subject to anything other than jobs and the millions of Americans out of work,” Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Romney’s presidential exploratory committee, said in a statement. “With 9.6% unemployment in South Carolina, voters are looking for a jobs plan not a smear campaign."
Romney tomorrow is planning to visit South Carolina and meet with business owners. It is his first trip to the Palmetto State this year.
Romney has in fact said that he and Ryan were “on the same page,” although he has not wholly embraced the Wisconsin Republican’s budget plan, which includes drastic cuts to Medicare. Romney said last week that he would at some point present his own plan on reforming the health care program for the elderly sand said it would “not be identical but shares objectives” with Ryan’s plan.
President Obama told a revved up crowd in Boston this evening that he needs to be reelected next year because "we've got more work to do."
At the first of two fund-raisers in Massachusetts, he said, "Change is hard. Change takes time ... We've got more work to do!"
He said that to-do list includes immigration reform.
A complaint by the Boston Herald about the limited access its staff would have to President Obama during his visit to Boston today prompted an Obama aide to fault the paper for its coverage of an Obama visit to Boston in March.
On that day, the Herald devoted its front page to an opinion article by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, a likely candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, in which he criticized the administration's job-creation record.
"I think that raises a fair question about whether the paper is unbiased in its coverage of the president's visits,'' White House spokesman Matt Lehrich told the Herald in an email.
WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney announced this afternoon that a veteran public relations consultant was joining his burgeoning campaign as a senior adviser.
Mark DeMoss is currently president of the DeMoss Group, which is a large Atlanta-based public relations agency that focuses on serving Christian leaders, businesses, and non-profit organizations.
"Governor Romney is uniquely qualified and competent to lead our country out of turbulent economic times and create jobs,” DeMoss said in a statement released by Romney’s exploratory committee. “He has worked in government long enough to know how government works, but not so long that he only knows how to work for the government.”
WASHINGTON New Hampshire voters will get their first glimpse of another potential GOP presidential contender in coming days when former ambassador Jon M. Huntsman Jr. sweeps through the crucial primary state.
It starts with a Thursday afternoon meet-and-greet in Hanover, then continues Friday with back-to-back house parties in Keene and Hancock, before he speaks at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Concord late in the day.
On Saturday, he delivers the commencement address at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, then participates in photo ops at a gun shop and a country store before speaking before the Windham County GOP.
A commencement speech and missed Air Force One landing behind him, President Obama was departing New London, Conn., this afternoon en route to two fundraisers in Boston and Brookline.
The president had a more than hourlong drive to Bradley International Airport before flying on to Logan International Airport.
The campaign events were preceded by the day's "official" appearance, the president's address to graduates of the US Coast Guard Academy. He noted they collectively had the highest GPA of any class in the academy's history.
When President Obama pulls up tonight at a stately Brookline home for a campaign fundraiser, he will have two hosts in the flesh Jack and Eileen Connors and a third in spirit.
Elizabeth Minot Graves was the daughter of George Minot, a Massachusetts General Hospital physician and Harvard Medical School professor who shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1934 for his work in developing a treatment for pernicious anemia.
In the eyes of Liza Weld Graves, the daughter of Elizabeth Minot Graves, her late mother has been expecting the president.
"My mom died shortly after Obama took office," Liza Graves wrote today in an email from her current house in Sonoma, Calif.
"She had dementia, but was thrilled when Obama was elected, so much so that through her dementia haze, she demanded that my brother call the president-elect to invite him to tea with her father... She was quite upset when we told her this was not to be.
"In an odd way, her wish is being granted tonight," she wrote.FULL ENTRY
A trip that will bring President Obama to Boston got off to a rocky start this morning.
Air Force One executed a missed approach as it neared its first destination, Bradley International Airport outside Hartford.
White House Spokesman Nick Shapiro said: "AF1 did a go-round at Bradley International Airport this morning because of weather. They circled around and landed safely a few minutes later, at 10:05 a.m.
New Hampshire Democrats have announced that Vice President Joe Biden will headline a party fund-raising dinner next week.
He will deliver the keynote address at the annual McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner on Wednesday in Nashua.
The appearance underscores the battleground nature of the state, which broke Democratic in 2008 but went Republican in leading races last fall.
"We are excited to welcome Vice President Biden to this year's event," Ray Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, said in a statement this morning. "Working with President Obama, Joe Biden has played a key role in turning our economy around and getting America on the right track."
The announcement was made as the president was en route for his own trip to New England. He was delivering the commencement address at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., before flying to Massachusetts for reelection fund-raisers in Boston and Brookline.
President Obama is coming to Massachusetts later today for a pair of fund-raisers in Boston and Brookline.
He arrived at Andrews Air Force Base at 8:52 a.m. and Air Force One took off at 9:01 a.m., destined for New London, Conn., and a commencement address at the US Coast Guard Academy.
The Globe's White House correspondent, Donovan Slack, is in the traveling pool, riding aboard the presidential jet and getting a front-row seat for his speech at the Cyclorama in the South End and, this evening, at the Brookline home of Boston advertising executive Jack Connors Jr.
Cornel West, a Princeton University professor and leading black intellectual, is harshly criticizing President Obama, a candidate he once supported but now calls “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats.”
West, a former Harvard University professor, said during an interview with the website Truthdig posted yesterday that the president has not been true to his race.
“I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men,” West said. “It’s understandable. As a young brother who grows up in a white context, brilliant African father, he’s always had to fear being a white man with black skin. All he has known culturally is white…When he meets an independent black brother, it is frightening.”
The White House did not have an immediate comment. West did not respond to messages left at his office.
The First Hoopster will get a salute tomorrow from two prominent members of the Boston Celtics family, Hall of Fame member Bill Russell and current All-Star Ray Allen, according to a top Democrat briefed on the plans.
Both will address the audience tomorrow afternoon when President Obama visits Massachusetts for a fund-raiser at the Cyclorama in Boston, said the Democrat, who requested anonymity to speak in advance of the formal announcement.
The president will then attend a smaller event at the Brookline home of advertising executive Jack Connors Jr.
LAS VEGAS – Mitt Romney, while clearly buoyed by the $10.25 million his supporters raised today, is nonetheless not ready to rule out what could become another potent financial weapon in his all-but-certain presidential run: tapping into his own personal wealth.
“That’s counsel I’m going to keep with Ann and myself, and that’s all,” he said, referring to his wife. “So I can’t give you any more update than that. We’re just going to keep that to our own counsel.”
The decision could be significant, not only on Romney's pocketbook but also on the contours of the race. During the former Massachusetts governor’s 2008 presidential campaign, he used $42 million of his own funds. One of Romney’s potential rivals -- Jon Huntsman Jr., who comes from a wealthy family – has already ruled out self-financing his campaign.
“If we were to get in the race – no self-financing,” Huntsman told reporters recently in South Carolina. “Unless you can raise it legitimately, you’re not going to win.”
LAS VEGAS – Mitt Romney raised $10.25 million from his National Call Day here today, far exceeding the haul he brought in from a similar fund-raising day in Boston four years ago.
With around 720 supporters placing calls around the country throughout the day, he sought to put on full display one of the most important attributes for his emerging campaign: raising money.
Supporters -- gathered in a conference room at the Las Vegas Convention Center that Romney aides happily noted was the size of two football fields -- began gathering to make calls at 5:30 a.m., asking contributors to give the maximum to his campaign.
Former Olympic speed-skaters Dan Jansen and Derek Parra were on hand, and model Cindy Crawford was featured in the demonstration video teaching volunteers how to use the fund-raising software, dubbed ComMitt.
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters today in Pakistan that "there is too much at stake" for the United States and Pakistan to abandon their alliance.
He said he and Pakistani officials have agreed on a series of steps that each side would take to improve relations, but declined to detail what those steps were.
"There are real differences between our two countries, but the bonds that tie us together in the fight against the threat of extremists is stronger than those differences," he said during a news conference in Islamabad.
In announcing today that he would not seek the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump made clear that for all his sound and fury, he prefers to make money above solving political problems.
"I have spent the past several months unofficially campaigning and recognize that running for public office cannot be done half-heartedly," he said in a statement. "Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector."
Weeks earlier, Trump hinted at his priorities in a less-polished fashion, as he visited New Hampshire with all the atmospherics of a traveling carnival.
There's never been a shortage of people willing to lampoon Senator John Kerry, or who have delighted in him being roasted.
Kerry has inflicted some of the damage himself, from trying to register a yacht in Rhode Island in an apparent Massachusetts tax dodge, to heading out windsurfing when presidential campaign advisers said it would underscore the elitist image they were trying to overcome.
Other damage has come from piling-on, all too easy with a person who can spend nearly as much time deciding what brand of beer to drink as it takes to down the first pint.
But those thoughts, emotions, or memories can seem petty when considering the duties he undertook today: representing the United States and delivering its complaints in the aftermath of the May 2 raid that found and killed Osama bin Laden while he hid amid a Pakistani military garrison.
Jane Flavell Collins
Senator Scott Brown said yesterday the federal corruption trial of former House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi highlights the dangers of one-party dominance in Massachusetts and a "go-along-to-get-along" political culture.
Injecting politics into a normally celebratory moment, Brown said in remarks delivered at the Lasell College commencement ceremony: "I don't care if you're a Democrat or a Republican, just as one political party can't be right 100 percent of the time, it shouldn't have 100 percent of the power. Unchallenged power grows arrogant over time. It is what has given us one case of graft after another."
The lone Republican in the Massachusetts congressional delegation, Brown is seeking reelection next year in what has historically been a Democratic state. Democrats have begun lining up to challenge him, and Brown opponents have already started pounding him with advertising campaigns.
Newton Mayor Setti Warren has outlined how far he is willing to go to become the next US senator from Massachusetts: He will shake hands in the cold outside Fenway Park, if need be.
“I love the Red Sox they're doing pretty well," he told former Globe reporter Rick Klein when he appeared on "Top Line," the ABC News online program he now hosts each weekday. "I was at a game a few weeks ago. I’m gonna be out there, and across the state. We've been to cities and towns that's the kind of campaign I'm going to run, and that's the kind of campaign that will win.”
The comment harks back to January 2010, when fellow Democrat Martha Coakley mocked her then-Republican rival, then-state Senator Scott Brown, for pressing the flesh outside the ballpark when it hosted the NHL's "Winter Classic" on a frigid New Year's Day.
Brown went on to win the campaign and replace the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
Coakley went back to being attorney general.
Jim Brett, president of the New England Council and a former state legislator, has been named chairman of the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.
Brett previously served two two-year terms as a member of the committee under President George W. Bush. He was urged to apply for the chairmanship, he said, by the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
“I am very honored and humbled to be chair of this commission," Brett said during an interview.
The Dorchester resident a special perspective to the committee: His late brother, Jack, the eldest of his family's six children, was born with an intellectual disability.
He recalled how doctors advised his mother to institutionalize Jack, but, instead, she replied, "No way. He's coming home with me. And I'm going to have more children."
Brett added: "She taught us to make sure that he’s part of everyone’s daily life. And he taught me about the issues of disability, and the challenges just to function every day. When I got elected, I promised to learn about the situation and be an advocate."
"Mitt Romney, Belmont, Mass." penned a Letter to the Editor that appeared in today's Wall Street Journal, responding to a scathing editorial on the newpaper's conservative editorial page the day before.
In it, Romney sought to address some criticisms of the universal health care law he signed while governor of Massachusetts, a measure the Journal had argued raised questions about his fitness to be president.
The 2006 Massachusetts law became the template for the federal universal health care law signed last year by President Obama, which the Journal and others deride as "ObamaCare."
"While I have had my disagreements with the Journal's editorial board, where we find common ground is on the need to repeal ObamaCare and replace it with reforms that empower states to craft their own solutions," Romney wrote. "A one-size-fits-all plan that raises taxes and ignores the very real differences between states is the wrong course for our nation."
WASHINGTON -- The US House of Representatives passed legislation today to expand offshore gas and oil exploration to New England coastal waters and other areas where drilling is now banned.
The measure, which passed 243-179, is unlikely to advance beyond the House and would garner a veto from President Obama regardless. But the legislation highlights how energy and fuel prices have become one of the biggest political battlegrounds in the sharply divided Congress.
The bill makes no bones about its intent. Entitled the “Reversing President Obama's Offshore Moratorium Act,” the legislation countered a seven-year moratorium President Obama imposed last year on new offshore drilling. The bill would require the federal government to offer offshore leases in areas believed to have substantial oil and natural gas reserves.
“This legislation ensures that the Obama Administration can no longer withhold valuable energy resources necessary to increase American energy production here at home,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican, said in a statement. Cantor was among nine House members who didn’t vote on the bill.FULL ENTRY
J.D. Pooley/Getty Images
ANN ARBOR, Mich. Mitt Romney this afternoon tried to rebut conservative criticisms of his Massachusetts health care law as he called for abolishing President Obama’s national plan and replacing it with a new, more state-based reform of the US health care system.
In his first and perhaps most significant policy speech of his budding presidential campaign, he gave the strongest defense to date of his signature Massachusetts health care plan.
“A lot of pundits around the nation are saying that I should just stand up and say this whole thing was a mistake, that it was a boneheaded idea and I should just admit it, it was a mistake, and walk away from it,” Romney said. “And I presume that a lot of folks would conclude that if I did that, that would be good for me politically. But there’s only one problem with that: it wouldn’t be honest. I, in fact, did what I believed was right for the people of my state.”
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, a Democrat who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is drafting legislation that would allow the opposition in Libya to access about $180 million in funds that have been frozen in Moammar Khadafy's overseas bank accounts, according to Libyan opposition leader Mahmoud Jibril.
Kerry announced the legislation Wednesday after a meeting with Jibril, but did not give a dollar amount.
But Jibril, who is being referred to as prime minister of the self-appointed opposition government that has taken charge of the effort to bring down Khadafy, told an audience at the Brookings Institution in Washington the amount of money Kerry is offering might be too little, too late.
He said the rebels need about $3 billion to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in cities besieged by Khadafy's forces and camps of fleeing refugees.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. The topic: health care. The concern: It could undermine Mitt Romney's run for president. A key critic: The Wall Street Journal. The response: A speech and a PowerPoint presentation.
That was the tack the former Massachusetts governor took today as he tried to address a key vulnerability in his expected presidential campaign. But it's also the exact tack Romney took in 2006, while he still was governor, as he geared up for his first White House campaign.
In each instance, he tried to mollify conservative critics who argued universal health care cut against their free-market and libertarian beliefs.
The following article was published in The Boston Globe on April 26, 2006:
Check "Political Intelligence" at 2 p.m. for a live stream of the health care speech being delivered today by expected Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney.
Mitt Romney's favored communication medium in the run-up to his second presidential campaign has been the op-ed column, with sometimes unexpected results, since expounding in such a sober medium allows him to avoid distracting questions from other elements of the media.
Today, though, he is the focus of a blistering editorial in The Wall Street Journal, which carries the unflattering headline, "Obama's Running Mate."
The editorial, which included a trademark Journal stipple portrait of the former Massachusetts governor, runs across two columns and consumes two-thirds of the space usually allotted to editorials written from a conservative perspective.
John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
ANN ARBOR, Mich. As Mitt Romney prepares for a major address on health care here this afternoon, the likely presidential contender is still expected to continue defending what has become a third rail in Republican politics: a requirement from government that people purchase health insurance.
The so-called individual mandate was a core component of the signature health care plan Romney signed into law while governor of Massachusetts, and he has stuck by that decision even as he has decried it as part of the federal plan signed into law last year by President Obama.
During a question-and-answer period last month in Las Vegas, for instance, Romney used an example of someone without insurance getting in a car wreck and going to the hospital.
“We don’t let them die in the streets,” Romney said. “They go to the hospital and are treated. And guess who pays for that? You. Government. You all are paying for that.”
A spokesman for Senator Scott Brown refused to say if he will travel to the CIA to see photos of a dead Osama bin Laden, after the agency offered today to show them to members of a congressional committee upon which the Republican serves.
The only other member of the Massachusetts congressional delegation who would qualify under the same offer, Democrat Niki Tsongas, will decline.
“The congresswoman is convinced that Osama bin Laden was killed and will not be requesting to see the photos,” said spokesman John Noble.
Brown spokesman Colin Reed said, “No comment on this.”
WASHINGTON -- Representative Barney Frank said today that he expects President Obama to bypass Congress and do a recess appointment to install the director of the new consumer protection agency for financial products.
The prediction follows a threat from Senate Republicans last week that they will block the confirmation of any director unless several measures to limit the agency's power are instituted.
Frank said such measures would allow Republicans to cripple the agency's power to protect consumers and possibly defund it altogether, eliminating one of the cornerstones of the financial regulation overhaul law passed last year. He said they were "acting like thugs" and forcing Obama to bypass the confirmation process.FULL ENTRY
Democrat Warren Tolman is considering a campaign to unseat Republican Senator Scott Brown next year.
Tolman refused to say if those people are dissatisfied with the current field, which doesn't include any of the better-known politicians in Massachusetts. Those who have already declared include Newton Mayor Setti Warren, City Year co-founder Alan Khazei, former lieutenant governor candidate Bob Massie, and Salem immigration attorney Marisa DeFranco.
A key witness in the federal corruption trial of former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi took the stand today with a blunt confession: “I don’t want to be here.”
Steven J. Topazio, a private attorney who shared office space and expenses with DiMasi, made the comment as he began undergoing questioning by the prosecution.
Court records say that at DiMasi’s urging, Topazio was paid $5,000 a month to be a local counsel for Cognos, a Burlington software company seeking state contracts, even though he did not perform any work. Topazio allegedly paid DiMasi $4,000 from each check.
"'It's about time we started getting business like this,'" Topazio testified DiMasi told him. "He was excited by it, and I was excited by it."
Yet he added: "I was concerned, because Cognos hadn't sent me any work to do."
Senator John Kerry today labeled Osama bin Laden's death "a potentially game-changing opportunity" for a political solution in war-torn Afghanistan.
Kicking off the third of six hearings on Afghanistan and Pakistan this month by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington, Kerry said that could "bring greater stability to the region and bring our troops home." The Massachusetts Democrat serves as chairman of the committee.
"Let me be very clear: A precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan would be a mistake and I, for one, would take that option off the table," Kerry said in his prepared remarks. "Instead, we should be working toward the smallest footprint necessary, a presence that puts Afghans in charge and presses them to step up to that task at the same time that it secures our interests and accomplishes our mission of destroying Al Qaeda and preventing Afghanistan from ever again becoming a terrorist sanctuary.
"But make no mistake, it is unsustainable to continue spending $10 billion a month on a massive military operation with no end in sight and the good news is, we don’t have to. I am convinced that we can achieve our core goals at a more sustainable cost, in both lives and dollars," he added.
President Obama has pledged to begin removing some of the 130,000 US troops by July 31.
Matthew J. Lee / Globe Staff
(Editor's Note: This post contains math and, even more ominously, math performed by a journalist with guidance from politicians.)
Newton Mayor Setti Warren was set this morning to personally declare what he stated yesterday in a slick movie: He is a candidate for US Senate next year.
With City Year co-founder Alan Khazei, Somerville activist Bob Massie, and Salem immigration attorney Marisa DeFranco already declared candidates, that all but guarantees a contested Democratic primary in September 2012, even with some dropouts.
WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney is planning to make a show of force next week in Las Vegas, expecting to bring in around 800 supporters to place calls around the country and display one of the most important attributes for his emerging campaign: raising money.
The supporters will start making calls next Monday around 5:30 a.m. (or 8:30 a.m. on the East Coast), according to a copy of the invitation obtained by the Globe. There will be an opening ceremony at 8 a.m.
The National Call Day will be similar to a daylong fundraising event Romney held in Boston during his last campaign, which drew 600 to 800 people and raised more than $1 million.
That event, held at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, was meant to highlight his home state, with the Fenway Park anthem “Dirty Water” blaring from the loudspeakers after he spoke.
This time, the event is behind held 2,700 miles away, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The invitation offered group rates at two of the strip’s most luxurious hotels – The Encore by Wynn, and the Venetian (although the group rates don’t seem to offer that steep a discount: A two-night stay in a luxury suite at the Venetian costs $174 through Romney, or $189 through the hotel website).
Regardless, the volunteers should come prepared. There is one reminder at the bottom of the invitation: "Please bring with you: cell phone, cell phone charger, iPad and/or laptop.”
Pat Greenhouse / Globe Staff
Newton Mayor Setti Warren announced today that he will seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Senator Scott Brown for re-election next year.
In a heavily produced video, complete with stirring music, the former Kerry and Clinton aide said: "Many of you don't know me; I'm probably about as well known as Scott Brown was at this point two years ago."
Nonetheless, Warren said the race should reduce to a debate about party values.
Massachusetts Republican Party leaders today filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against the League of Women Voters, alleging the nonprofit organization failed to properly file paperwork after it launched a television ad campaign criticizing Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown.
"We are calling on the League to immediately reveal their secret donors as the law requires, and to live by the same standards of openness and transparency they have encouraged others to adopt," Massachusetts Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Nassour said in a written statement.
The ads criticized Brown as well as Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, for votes related to the Clean Air Act. Responding to the complaint, Elisabeth MacNamara, the organization's president, defended the ad, saying the ad targeted one particular issue, not the upcoming elections.
"Our ad will stand up to scrutiny because it is about Senator Scott Brown's vote to weaken the Clean Air Act and endanger public health," McNamara said in a statement issued Sunday. "It is not about an election that is 18 months away or a politician who may or may not be on the ballot in that election. The allegation to the FEC is simply a charade, designed to deflect attention away from Senator Brown's vote to block the Clean Air Act."
WASHINGTON – Newt Gingrich is planning to formally announce this week that he’s running for president, one of a series of upcoming events that could put the slow-moving Republican presidential field into sharper focus.
The announcement from the former House speaker, who said two months ago that he was exploring to run for president, has been widely expected. He is planning to make the official announcement Wednesday on Facebook and Twitter, although that seems sure to be anticlimactic given that his staff is forecasting the news nearly 48 hours in advance.
Gingrich will also give an interview to Fox News that night, and is planning his first speech as a presidential candidate on Friday at a Republican convention in his home state of Georgia, according to spokesman Rick Tyler. He’ll also head to Eureka, Ill. – which happens to be Ronald Reagan’s hometown -- on Saturday to deliver the commencement address at Eureka College.
Tom Rettig / Worcester Telegram & Gazette
On Saturday morning, Scott Brown joined his Senate colleague, John Kerry, as well as Governor Deval Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray in Auburn for the funeral of an Air Force officer killed by a rampaging gunman in Afghanistan.
In so doing, the officeholders conferred the weight and stature of their respective offices on the event, signaling to the public in deed if not in word that this was a moment worthy of pause amid the motion of daily life.
It’s because of the esteem the public holds for such high office that people also stopped and listened last week when Brown went on television and weighed in on the debate about whether to release photos showing Osama bin Laden after he had been shot to death by US troops in Pakistan.
“Hello, I’m Scott Brown, and I have the honor of representing Massachusetts in the United States Senate.
“Last Sunday night, we heard President Obama deliver the message that Americans have been waiting for since September 11, 2001. It’s a very rare thing when so many people across the world observe the loss of life with something other than regret. But this man, the late Osama bin Laden, had chosen his fate long before in a life filled with cruelty. If he expected mercy when our forces found him that was asking much more than he was ever known to give.
“This was a man who rejoiced in the suffering and death of others, who set in motion all the horror and grief of 9/11 and considered it just a start. He was a teacher of evil, and now, for him, the lesson is over. It ends not in the fulfillment of some fanatical vision, but in the depths of the
WASHINGTON — US Senator Scott Brown will deliver the Republican response to President Obama’s weekly address this week, focusing on the killing of Osama bin Laden, American’s continued fight against terrorism and the ongoing war in Afghanistan. Brown’s remarks will be released tomorrow morning, according to the senator’s office.
Brown, a Massachusetts Republican, is a 31-year member of the Massachusetts Army National Guard and currently holds the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps. He had to backtrack earlier this week from comments he made in a TV interview, in which he claimed to have seen a photo of bin Laden’s corpse, which turned out to be a fake.
WASHINGTON — The League of Women Voters has offered strong support in the past for disclosing who pays for political advertising, but the voter education group this morning would not name the donors funding its TV ads attacking Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown—at least not this year.
“We comply with the spirit and the letter of the law and report all contributions in our annual reports,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, national president of the League of Women Voters, in a phone interview.
The group’s annual report covering 2011 will be out early next year, she said.FULL ENTRY
US Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat, will meet with constituents tomorrow, May 7, at a town hall meeting in Boston’s Faneuil Hall to discuss national security, job creation, and other key issues affecting Massachusetts and the nation, according to a statement from Kerry’s office.
Doors open at noon. Kerry will begin the meeting at 1 p.m.
A warning to the good people of Massachusetts: The story that will unfold in the United States District Court in Boston over the next month will be harmful to your psyche. It will confirm every possible fear of how state government works.
To see the three defendants sitting at their separate tables in Courtroom 10 yesterday was to witness pretty much everything bad about Beacon Hill – shameless cronyism, power for the sake of personal enrichment, a hilarious arrogance that they were smarter than everyone else.
Poor Sal DiMasi. He's walking around the courthouse during the too-frequent recesses clutching people's shoulders in that clichéd political way, acting like he's still the House speaker. In reality, he's nothing more than an indigent defendant who piled up $50,000 in credit card debt and three mortgages trying to keep up with the Joneses – or, in this case, the Cashmans. This was the guy presiding over our state budget.
David L. Ryan / Globe Staff
The federal corruption trial of former House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi began today with a prosecutor declaring "this man found a way to cash in on that office."
Yet a defense attorney took aim at a key government witness, saying, "He's not just a gambler; he's a degenerate gambler."
Addressing a jury of eight men and eight women, Assistant US Attorney S. Theodore Merritt attacked DiMasi after posting a chart outlining the alleged conspiracy with the former House leader at the top.
Merritt also alleged that DiMasi had tens of thousands of dollars of monthly credit card debt.
Within an hour, one of DiMasi's attorneys, William Cintolo, began the defense case, his voice booming through the courtroom very theatrically. He argued that DiMasi, in the deals under scrutiny, simply advocated for software the state needed, not in a conspiracy to receive bribes.
The Massachusetts Democratic Party issued a statement today saying Senator Scott Brown "owes" Massachusetts residents an explanation after the Republican asserted and then retracted that he had seen postmortem photos of Osama bin Laden.
“As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Brown owes the people of Massachusetts more details as to what led him to believe that he was shown an authentic photo, and then what led him to feel comfortable enough to speak out publicly about the photo," party Chairman John Walsh said in a statement.
"He needs right away, today to provide answers to the following questions: who showed him the fake photo; who told him it was genuine when it wasn’t; and what are the procedures he uses to make sure he has reliable information before he gives voters that information?" Walsh added.
The chairman said the senator needs to “understand that his words matter, and his assertions are taken at face value because of his position."
Brown spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom replied: "With the Sal DiMasi corruption trial going on, I'm surprised that John Walsh has the time to criticize Republicans."
WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney continues to dominate in early polls in New Hampshire, holding onto a sizable lead in a state that is crucial for his presidential bid.
The former Massachusetts governor is favored by 35 percent of those polled, giving him a lead of more than 27 points, according to a poll released tonight by WHDH-TV.
None of the other 17 potential candidates included in the poll, which was conducted by Suffolk University, are in the double-digits.FULL ENTRY
US Senator Scott Brown said in several televised interviews today that he had seen perhaps the most controversial and closely guarded photos in the world: those showing Osama bin Laden’s dead body.
Brown, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, suggested he had viewed them as part of an official briefing, and he argued that they were too graphic to be released to the public and could enflame terrorists.
Brown later acknowledged that he had fallen victim to a hoax, apparently the same doctored images that were making the rounds on the Internet.
‘‘The photo that I saw and that a lot of other people saw is not authentic,’’ the senator said in a one-sentence statement issued hours after the interviews aired.FULL ENTRY
WASHINGTON -- Members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation are urging House appropriators not to support cuts to grants that pay for a range of community services for the poor, the disabled and the elderly.
Nine House members from Massachusetts are among 84 Democrats who sent a letter to the top members of the House Appropriations Committee saying that cuts to Community Service Block Grants would harm vulnerable citizens when the services are most needed. Edward J. Markey, a Malden Democrat, provided the letter's first signature.
"Severe cuts to CSBGs – the source of funding for community action programs - would hinder, rather than help, our nation’s economic recovery while devastating critical support services for the poor, disabled, children and the elderly," the letter read.
The only Massachusetts member who did not sign was John Olver of Amherst. Olver is a member of House Appropriations and as a policy does not sign letters to the committee, according to a spokeswoman.
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WASHINGTON – Anyone hoping for firm clues on whether Mitch Daniels will run for president would have been sorely disappointed.
The Indiana governor this afternoon spoke here in a speech that was much-anticipated, because his timeline for an announcement on his political future is expiring.
“You are here under false pretenses,” he told the crowd at the American Enterprise Institute, which included at least eight television cameras. “I just came for a meal.”
He then spoke for about 30 minutes in a policy-rich speech – complete with a slide-show presentation -- about the education reform that he was implementing in his home state.
WASHINGTON Having seen unreleased photos of Osama bin Laden’s corpse, US Senator Scott Brown does not believe pictures of the dead terrorist leader should be made public, the Massachusetts Republican said in an interview on NECN.
“Let me assure you that he is dead, that bin Laden is dead I have seen the photos,” Brown said hours before President Obama declared he would not release the images.
During an interview with "60 Minutes," the president told the CBS News program that "we don't trot out trophies."
Asked directly if the pictures, which have been described as bloody and gruesome, should be made available for everyone, Brown told NECN: “If it’s to sell newspapers or just have a news cycle story, no, I don’t think they should be released. We’re still dealing with the sensitivities of the Muslim and Arab world. And we still have men and women serving throughout the world.”
WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney’s former campaign chairman in the crucial state of New Hampshire says he won’t be back for a second presidential bid.
Bruce Keough, a 2002 gubernatorial candidate and a former state senator, says he opted against joining Romney’s campaign again because the candidate could not articulate consistent positions on key issues.
"He struggled with that in the last campaign," Keough told Mother Jones, which first reported Keough’s defection. “And to some extent I think he's still struggling with it."
Newton Mayor Setti Warren, a prospective candidate for US Senate, has booked the same American Legion Post where he announced his mayoral run for an unspecified event next Tuesday.
Aaron Goldman, who handles constituent services for the mayor, said Warren had reserved Post 440 in Newton for a “service breakfast,” but declined to elaborate.
"No comment," Warren told the Newton Tab, which first reported the booking, when the paper asked Warren if he planned to announce he is running against Republican Senator Scott Brown.
Deborah Shah, the mayor’s political director, said, “The mayor is hosting a service breakfast with people in his life who have done things for the community and he wants to honor them. I can’t say anything further at this time.”
Warren is a Navy veteran and a former aide to Senator John F. Kerry. City Year co-founder Alan Khazei and Somerville activist Bob Massie have already announced campaigns.
Governor Deval Patrick, just back from addressing Wisconsin Democrats, will reprise the role next month in Florida.
The Florida Democratic Party made the announcement today. Patrick will speak June 11 in Hollywood, just south of Fort Lauderdale.
“As Governor, Deval Patrick has focused on common sense solutions to bring jobs to his state. His leadership in implementing Massachusetts’ landmark health care reform law now serves as the national model for bringing affordable health insurance to all Americans,” Chairman Rod Smith said in a statement.
“We are thrilled that Governor Patrick is joining us at our 2011 Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, helping us as get ready for the 2012 elections and work to hold (Governor) Rick Scott and his extreme Republican Party accountable," said Smith.
Mary Beth Cahill, once Senator Edward M. Kennedy's chief of staff, has been named director of the United Auto Workers' Washington office, as well as director of its UAW Community Action Program.
In both jobs, she will oversee the UAW’s political program nationally. She will also serve as a senior adviser to UAW President Bob King.
Cahill formerly served as assistant to the president and director of the Office of Public Liaison in the Clinton White House, as well as Kennedy's chief of staff and director of Senator John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign.
She also spent five years at EMILY’s List, a PAC that supports female candidates and supports abortion rights.
“We are thrilled to have Mary Beth join the UAW leadership team especially in light of the difficult challenges ahead for our union,” King said in a statement. "As we navigate the tough political environment in this era of attacks on American working families and the middle class, and head into national contract talks for the domestic automakers, I’m confident that she will help us elect officeholders who are allies in the battle to save the American middle class."
Cahill is a Massachusetts native and the daughter of a UAW autoworker. She graduated from Emmanuel College with a degree in English and political science, and held a fellowship at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 2005.
Glen Johnson / Globe Staff
Governor Deval Patrick addressed Wisconsin Democrats on Saturday night, and one sign of the importance he placed in the political message he delivered was evident in the presence of one person: Doug Rubin.
The governor's top local political strategist made the flight out to the land of nice people, dairy farms, and Old Style beer, and his handiwork was readily apparent.
Patrick largely gave what has become his book tour/political stump speech, talking about how much life has changed in his family in just one generation, and how he and his fellow Democrats shouldn't be satisfied until everyone has a good job, a good school, and a clean environment.
WASHINGTON -- Likely presidential candidate Mitt Romney this morning said President Obama deserved to be credited with an “enormous success” for overseeing the mission that killed Osama bin Laden.
“We’ll all remember where we were when Osama bin Laden was finally killed,” Romney told reporters this morning, according to an NECN video. “I congratulate the president, the intelligence community, our military. It’s an extraordinary accomplishment.”
“The bad guy took one in the eye,” he added.
Romney, who is considering vying for the role of occupying the Oval Office, was also eager for some more behind-the-scenes details.
“I look forward to hearing more,” Romney said. “How did we find out where he was located? What sources of intelligence were developed over the years? How many blind allies did they have to pursue until they finally found this guy?”
WASHINGTON Richard Lugar, Indiana Republican who is the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said today the strike on Osama bin Laden in Pakistan raises questions about whether the continuing war in Afghanistan is worth the cost.
“With al Qaeda largely displaced from the country, but franchised in other locations, Afghanistan does not carry a strategic value that justifies 100,000 American troops and a $100 billion per year cost, especially given current fiscal restraints,” Lugar said in his opening statement at a hearing on Afghanistan.
Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who serves as chairman of the committee, called the death of bin Laden a "seminal moment." Questions about the future US role in Afghanistan are even more relevant now, he said.
"The death of Osama bin Laden is obviously an event with enormous consequence," he said. "It doesn't end the threat, however, but still it is a major victory in the long campaign against terrorism waged by our intelligence agencies and our military."FULL ENTRY
Essdras M. Suarez / Globe Staff
When Vice President Joe Biden wanted to meet the right people in March to set up the fundraising apparatus for his and President Obama's reelection committee, it was Jack Connors who greeted him at his 60th floor office in the John Hancock Tower and then took him down two flights for a reception he put together.
And when Obama comes to Boston in a couple weeks to ask for cash itself, it will be Connors again who welcomes him, this time at his Brookline home.
The president will leave with about $2 million from a dinner that is already sold out.
The back-to-back events highlight Connors's connection to the White House, as well as his expansion from the philanthropy and foundation work that has followed his successful career founding the advertising powerhouse Hill Holliday.
Glen Johnson / Globe Staff
MILWAUKEE Governor Deval Patrick flew home yesterday on a 7:30 a.m. fight from Milwaukee, capping off the first phase of the sales tour promoting his new book, “A Reason to Believe.”
Starting April 12, the memoir’s official publication date, he visited New York, Washington, his native Chicago, Los Angeles, and Milwaukee, as well as Boston, Cambridge, South Hadley, and Great Barrington, Mass.
He was interviewed by Matt Lauer on NBC’s “Today” show, Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show,” Lawrence O’Donnell on his MSNBC program, Tavis Smiley at PBS, Diane Rehm of NPR, and Bill Maher on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.”
He also appeared on CNN.
WASHINGTON -- Likely presidential candidate Mitt Romney is not participating this week in the first GOP presidential debate, saying it was too early to begin facing off against opponents.
The debate, being held Thursday in South Carolina and sponsored by Fox News, will feature only a handful of candidates, including former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and former Senator Rick Santorum, of Pennsylvania.
Romney, who is planning to be in South Carolina for a visit later this month, did participate in a forum on Friday in New Hampshire. The candidates were each given eight minutes for prepared remarks, but never appeared on stage with one another.
But he has been coy about whether he would participate in the first debate. On Friday, he told reporters, "Stay tuned," when asked whether he would be there. Today, he definitively said no.
"Gov. Romney will not be participating in this week's South Carolina debate because it's still early, the field is too unsettled and he's not yet an announced candidate," Matt Rhoades, one of his top advisers, said in a statement. "Fox News and the South Carolina Republican Party have both been notified of this decision. Gov. Romney is planning to visit South Carolina on May 21st and he looks forward to debating there closer to their primary."
WASHINGTON Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is seeking to refocus the nation's focus on Pakistan and Afghanistan in the run-up to a scheduled withdrawal of some US forces from Afghanistan, set to begin in July.
On Tuesday morning, Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Princeton University Professor Anne-Marie Slaughter, Ronald E. Neumann, president of the American Academy of Diplomacy will appear before the committee.
It has already conducted 14 oversight hearings on the war, including the first congressional hearings on reconciliation and the mission in Marja.
The latest hearing was planned before Sunday's surprise announcement about the killing Osama bin Laden.
“The killing of Osama bin Laden closes an important chapter in our war against extremists who kill innocent people around the world." Kerry said in a statement. "A single death does not end the threat from al Qaeda and its affiliated groups and highlights the need to thoroughly evaluate our strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We need to make certain we are asking tough questions about the direction and effectiveness of our policy/"
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Senator Scott Brown just issued a statement saying he requested his annual summer Massachusetts National Guard service period in Afghanistan.
“As a lieutenant colonel in the Massachusetts Army National Guard, I have service obligations that I fulfill each year.
"Following in the tradition of other lawmakers who have completed their military service requirements overseas, this year I have requested to conduct my annual training in Afghanistan.
"Doing so will help me to better understand our ongoing mission in that country, and provide me first-hand experience for my duties on the Senate Armed Services, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs committees," he said.
Brown has been in the Guard since 1979, but he has never been deployed to a war zone. His service this summer will come around the July set by President Obama for beginning to start removing some of the 132,000 US troops stationed in Afghanistan.
Typically such training periods last two weeks. It would not be considered a formal activation of his JAG unit.
The statement was issued about 90 minutes after Brown spoke with the Globe about heading to the war zone.
The Atlantic magazine has a fascinating interview with the Pakistani ambassador to the United States, in which he attempts to deflect criticism of his country's efforts to root out Osama bin Laden from its midst by comparing it to the ongoing search for Boston fugitive James "Whitey" Bulger.
"If Whitey Bulger can live undetected by American police for so long, why can't Osama bin Laden live undetected by Pakistani authorities?" asked Ambassador Husain Haqqani.
Read the full story here.
WASHINGTON -- Just after President Obama made the most important announcement of his presidency, the field of candidates hoping to unseat him began reacting to the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed.
"Welcome to hell, bin Laden," former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said, in one of the bluntest statements.
The shocking news is likely to temporarily divert away from any talk of the economy and high gas prices -- topics that Republican candidates have focused on in recent months. It could also bolster Obama's low approval ratings, and could expose a Republican presidential field that so far lacks a candidate with substantial foreign policy experience.FULL ENTRY
Senator Scott Brown issued a statement this morning saying he has requested to conduct his annual National Guard training in Afghanistan.
“As a lieutenant colonel in the Massachusetts Army National Guard, I have service obligations that I fulfill each year.
"Following in the tradition of other lawmakers who have completed their military service requirements overseas, this year I have requested to conduct my annual training in Afghanistan.
"Doing so will help me to better understand our ongoing mission in that country, and provide me first-hand experience for my duties on the Senate Armed Services, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs committees," he said.
Brown has been in the Guard since 1979, but he has never been deployed to a war zone. His service this summer will come around the July set by President Obama for beginning to start removing some of the 132,000 US troops stationed in Afghanistan.
Typically such training periods last two weeks. It would not be considered a formal activation of his JAG unit.
About 90 minutes before issuing his statement, Brown said in a telephone interview with the Globe, "I’m going to be going over at some point to do some missions.”
After President Obama told the nation last night about the death of Osama bin Laden, senior members of his administration held a conference call to brief reporters on the details of the mission.
Following is a transcript of that call, as provided by the White House, with all but one of the speakers identified as "senior administration officials."
It was led by Tommy Vietor, the chief spokesman for the National Security Council:
Following are the full texts of statements issued last night by President Obama and Massachusetts Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown after the death of Osama bin Laden:
Jason Reed / Reuters
President Bush started the search for Osama bin Laden on Sept. 11, 2001, and President Obama ended it yesterday, and each man took special pride in the accomplishment.
Bush, in a statement posted on the Facebook page of his wife, former first lady Laura Bush, said: "The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done."
Obama, meanwhile, wore an American flag pin on his lapel as he strode to a lectern in the East Room of the White House to make the official announcement.
"Justice has been done," the president said in remarks that began at 11:35 p.m.
Obama also went to lengths to detail the circumstances that led to bin Laden's death, as well as his leadership of it, starting with him saying he made it his top terrorism priority since shortly after taking office in 2009.
"Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice," said the president.
Then, in his crescendo, he added: "Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan."
Obama's backers will surely argue that the achievement validates his effort to shift the focus from the war on terror from insurgents and Saddam Hussein's loyalists in Iraq to the Taliban in Afghanistan, part of a campaign pledge he made to target bin Laden, the culprit of the 9/11 attacks.
As a senator, Obama declared he would authorize US forces to go into Pakistan to get bin Laden if that was where he sought refuge. In the end, that is what happened, with uncertain diplomatic repercussions for the country.
The president himself did not have to gloat, the facts potent enough to speak for themselves.
Glen Johnson / Globe Staff
MILWAUKEE Governor Deval Patrick addressed Wisconsin Democrats last night.
Here is the full story:
MILWAUKEE Governor Deval Patrick waded into the national debate over labor rights last night, telling fellow Democrats in the union battleground state of Wisconsin that Republicans “have abandoned any sense of responsibility for our common future in order to win power at all costs.’’
MILWAUKEE At least one Massachusetts labor leader wants Wisconsin Democrats to know Governor Deval Patrick is a union friend despite their own political spat back in the Bay State this week.
Just before the governor addressed a Democratic dinner in Milwaukee, Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Robert Haynes issued a statement defending Patrick against possible criticism after the Massachusetts House voted this week on a budget that sought to change health insurance programs for municipal workers.
Patrick has filed his own cost-saving proposal, and both he and Senate President Therese Murray have withheld commenting on the details of the House budget.
Glen Johnson / Globe Staff
MILWAUKEE Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is in Wisconsin tonight, addressing state Democrats energized in the aftermath of their collective bargaining dispute with Republican Governor Scott Walker.
Patrick is the keynote speaker at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin's Founders Day Dinner, which organizers proudly say sold out at 400 attendees in the aftermath of the Walker fight.
The governor flew into town this morning from Los Angeles, where he appeared on HBO as part of the book tour for his new memoir, "A Reason to Believe." He also was pulling double duty in Wisconsin, holding a book signing after the dinner. In addition, copies were available for purchase at a table outside the ballroom entrance.
MANCHESTER, N.H. Expected Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney tread on socially dangerous ground last night as he talked about the need to "hang" a misery index around the neck of Barack Obama, the nation's first black president.
Romney almost immediately caught himself, with the English major declaring "metaphorically" speaking, but the mix of nervous laughter with applause indicated at least some in the audience realized its potency.
Romney said: "You remember during the Ronald Reagan/Jimmy Carter debates? That Ronald Reagan came up with this great thing about the 'misery index,' and that he hung that around Jimmy Carter's neck, and that had a lot to do with Jimmy Carter losing. Well, we're going to have to hang the 'Obama Misery Index' around his neck. And, I'll tell you, the fact that you've got people in this country, really squeezed, with gasoline getting so expensive, with commodities getting so expensive, families are having a hard time making ends meet. So, we're going to have to talk about that, and housing foreclosures and bankruptcies and higher taxation. We're going to hang him uh, so to speak, metaphorically with, uh, with, uh you have to be careful these days, I've learned that, with an Obama Misery Index."
A video of the remarks posted on YouTube cuts off at, "you have to be careful," without the final 10 words.
Glen Johnson / Globe Staff
MANCHESTER, N.H. Five prospective Republican presidential contenders are attending a forum tonight sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, a pro-GOP group with ties to billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.
Glen Johnson / Globe Staff
MANCHESTER, N.H. Mitt Romney pulled out his own credit card and spent $38.52 today to fill up the Ford Escape owned by aide Will Ritter, before he blamed high gasoline prices on the country's inability to generate a sufficient supply of energy.
The prospective Republican presidential contender said the Obama administration's reliance on creating green technologies and renewable energy supplies is commendable, but it has also caused price increases because of the expectation that supply of existing fuels will not increase.
He called for more oil drilling and natural gas pipelines, as well as coal production.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Scott Brown is hitting back at a voter education group that began running a critical television spot today, saying the ad "reeks of political demagoguery."
The League of Women Voters’ television spot features a young girl on a respirator, and accuses Brown of siding with polluters when he voted this month for a measure that would have stripped the EPA of its ability to regulate greenhouse gases. A similar ad aimed at Democrat Claire McCaskill is airing in her home state of Missouri.
"It is outrageous for an allegedly non-partisan group to use sick children to misrepresent a vote about jobs and government over-regulation. These type of over-the-top distortions have no place in our political discourse,” Brown, a Republican, said in a statement.
Brown and McCaskill's states are the only ones where the ads are playing; both are up for re-election in 2012. The spots have the appearance of issue ads that typically pop up during election seasons that point out how candidates voted on particular issues.
Before Brown's comments, League of Women Voters President Elisabeth MacNamara said the spots were not attack ads, and did not target Brown and McCaskill because of their upcoming elections. She said that “there is an accountability piece” to running them, but said it was not related to their elections. The votes of all 100 senators are available at an accompanying Web site.
“These are not intended to at all attack these particular senators. They are designed to draw attention to the votes that were made by these two particular senators," she said.
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MANCHESTER, N.H. – New Hampshire Democrats are preemptively attacking likely presidential candidate Mitt Romney hours before he makes his second public appearance of the year in this crucial first-in-the-nation primary state.
The state Democratic Party this afternoon criticized the former Massachusetts governor for, among other things, planning a campaign appearance this afternoon at a gas station here. The Democrats pointed to a 2-cent-per-gallon increase in a gasoline fee that was implemented in 2003 the Bay State when Romney was governor. The special fee, assessed on gasoline companies and aimed at cleaning up contamination around underground fuel storage tanks, was raised from 0.5 cents per gallon to 2.5 cents per gallon.
To drive home the point, state Democrats released a map showing all New Hampshire gas stations that border Massachusetts. The map is called “Last Stop Before the Romney Gas Tax.”
Matthew Barzun, a former Lincoln resident who is now US ambassador to Sweden, will give up his diplomatic post to work for President Obama's re-election by overseeing what some have projected could be the country's first $1 billion White House campaign, The Boston Globe has learned.
Barzun, a 40-year-old Harvard College graduate, will serve as national finance chairman for Obama for America, the president's Chicago-based campaign committee. He is replacing Penny Pritzker, the Chicago billionaire who helped raise nearly $750 million for Obama's 2008 campaign.
During the 2012 race, the Obama committee, working in unison with the Democratic National Committee, expects a fierce advertising battle after the Supreme Court struck down a ban on corporate funding of campaign commercials.
"Not only was Matthew Barzun one of the Obama campaign's top fundraisers in 2008, but he also brings strong working relationships with President Obama's supporters from across the country to this race," said a national Democrat who confirmed the appointment today.
Check "Political Intelligence" after 6 p.m. tonight for a live blog from the Americans for Prosperity forum in Manchester, N.H.
Five prospective Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Herman Cain will address Republican activists in the first candidate cattle call in almost two months.
The event kicks off at 7 p.m., when Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina speaks at an hourlong dinner honoring former New Hampshire Senate candidate Ovide Lamontagne as “Conservative of the Year."
Lamontagne has become something of a GOP kingmaker in the first presidential primary state, helping to explain the turnout.
At 8 p.m., the broader speaking program begins, with each prospective candidate addressing the audience for eight minutes and then responding to questions from Tim Phillips, president of the AFP Foundation.
There will not be a direct debate, as the candidates are slated to speak in this order: Pawlenty, Santorum, Romney, Cain, and Bachmann.
The gathering is billed as a "Summit on Spending and Job Creation."
The appearance comes as a new poll sponsored by New Hampshire's leading television station, WMUR-TV, finds that President Obama's approval rating has fallen to 44 percent.
The survey also found that 52 percent of respondents disapproved of his job performance.
In one potential head-to-head matchup, Obama lost to Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, by a margin of 50 percent to 43 percent.
WASHINGTON – A voting rights advocacy group is taking to the airwaves today with a campaign-style ad criticizing Senator Scott Brown for a vote to curb the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory power.
The League of Women Voters’ television spot accuses Brown, a Republican, of siding with polluters with his vote earlier this month that would have stripped EPA of its ability to regulate greenhouse gases. A similar ad aimed at Democrat Claire McCaskill will air in her home state of Missouri.
Brown and McCaskill are the only senators being targeted, and both are up for re-election in 2012. The spots have the appearance of issue ads that typically pop up during campaigns pointing out how candidates voted on particular issues. The ad buy is significant, costing over a million dollars, according to the company that produced it.FULL ENTRY
WASHINGTON The New Hampshire Democratic Party announced this morning that it is filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that Republican Mitt Romney violated campaign finance laws by using large contributions given to a series of state PACs to fund his presidential ambitions.
The complaint asks the commission to investigate and cites a Boston Globe story published earlier this month that outlined Romney's state committee fund-raising system.
By using committees set up in individual states with no contribution limits, Romney was able to get around individual federal contribution limits of $5,000 per year. Through state committees in Alabama, Iowa, Michigan, South Carolina, and New Hampshire, the former Massachusetts governor raised large contributions totaling $1.62 million from 43 individuals in 2009 and 2010. That's an average contribution amount of $37,700.
WASHINGTON -- Congressman Michael Capuano took aim today at Senator Scott Brown's advocacy for a reconfigured Suffolk County voting district aimed at empowering minority voters, saying his current district already fits that criteria.
"Senator Brown is entitled to share his opinion on redistricting. But he is not entitled to his own facts and the facts could not be clearer," the Somerville Democrat wrote in an email newsletter to constituents and supporters.FULL ENTRY
EXETER, N.H. – Members of Congress have talked about the hard choices that must be made to get the country’s debt under control. Now, they’re figuring out just how difficult those decisions are going to be – and the political price that could be paid for making them.
Representative Frank Guinta, a first-term Republican from Manchester, faced a feisty crowd tonight at a town hall meeting in a high school in this quiet town near the seacoast.
The crowd booed at some responses, hissed at others. Audience members yelled and pointed at the congressman, and they yelled and pointed at each other.
Guinta was swept into office last year with a wave of Tea Party-fueled anger – largely over the economy and health care – and, constituents seemed to remind him tonight, he could just as easily be swept out.
It was an indication of the unrest going on throughout the country, as House Republicans attempt to defend their votes to implement drastic budget cuts and curb long-cherished entitlement programs.FULL ENTRY
WASHINGTON -- President Obama’s nomination of Leon Panetta as his next secretary of defense and General David Petraeus as CIA director are getting high marks today from both Massachusetts senators.
John Kerry, a Democrat, and Scott P. Brown, a Republican, praised the two men on the day that the president announced the nominations in a reshuffling of his national security team.
“While the country will miss the service of Secretary (Robert) Gates, Leon Panetta and General Petraeus are first-rate public servants whose reputations and records transcend party, and I expect broad approval and swift confirmations,” Kerry, the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.
Petraeus and Panetta have both served "admirably," Brown said of the two men. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he will participate in Panetta's hearing and vote on his nomination it goes to the full senate for confirmation.
"I look forward to learning more about their views and goals for the future during their confirmation hearings," Brown said in a statement.FULL ENTRY
President Obama is coming back to Boston next month for a fundraiser on behalf of his newly created reelection committee.
The Democrat is scheduled to appear at a 3 p.m. event at the Cyclorama in the South End on May 18.
A Democratic official who confirmed the trip would not provide further details, but if Obama follows the practice he has used in recent weeks in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City, he will attend several events for both mass audiences and more intimate groups while in the city.
The goal is to raise money for the 2012 campaign.
Obama was in Boston last month for an education event at TechBoston Academy in Dorchester, as well as a fundraiser on behalf of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at the Museum of Fine Arts.
CONCORD, N.H. -- The contrast could not have been clearer. Where Donald Trump flew into this first-in-the-nation primary state yesterday on his personal helicopter, Senator Rand Paul flew in on Southwest – and had coffee spilled on him, to boot.
Where Trump was greeted by a horde of reporters, only a handful came to hear Paul speak before the Merrimack County Republican Committee at a Holiday Inn here. And where Trump is heavy on the style and oftentimes light on the substance, Paul delivered a policy-rich speech in a dry tone.
But not without tweaking Trump today for his insistence that President Obama release his complete birth certificate.
“I’ve come to New Hampshire today because I’m very concerned,” Paul said. “I want to see the original long-form certificate, with embossed seal, of Donald Trump’s Republican registration.”
“Seriously don’t you think we need to see that?” he said, adding that Trump had donated to Democrats such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Governor Deval Patrick said this morning he believes he and leading lawmakers will “find our way to something” on an expanded gambling bill, but “we’re not there yet.”
Patrick said he, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, and Senate President Therese Murray continue to negotiate on the issue that ended in finger-pointing last year when the sides failed to reach agreement on bringing casinos to the state, which they all said they supported.
DeLeo, nonetheless, held out for slot machines at the state's four racetracks.
John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
Governor Deval Patrick, a close personal and political friend of President Obama, today said questions about the authenticity of his birth certificate and thus his legitimacy as the country's leader represent "a new low in American politics."
“I hope and I believe that the American people are bigger and better than this," the Democrat said during his monthly appearance on WTKK-FM, his most free-wheeling regular public engagement.
Asked whether he felt race was motivating questions not only about Obama's birthplace but also his academic record, Patrick like Obama the first African-American to hold his job said: “I have no idea, but whatever is motivating it, it feels like a new low in American politics, particularly when you consider the extraordinary challenges facing this country and this president, that we would spend our time on stuff like that and attempts to marginalize our president.”
Jim Wilson/Globe Staff
Listening to Donald Trump yesterday, speaking caustically and bombastically against the backdrop of a gleaming helicopter emblazoned with the name "Trump," I was struck by the contrast between him and the late Senator Paul Tsongas.
The Massachusetts Democrat announced his candidacy for the presidency 20 years ago Saturday, on April 30, 1991, and the approaching anniversary had prompted me to reminisce in recent weeks about the first White House campaign I covered.
The difference between Tsongas and Trump could not be more pronounced.
Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert has weighed in on Mitt Romney's suggestion earlier this week that President Obama had engaged in a huge "peacetime" spending binge.
Romney's staff later clarified that in his op-ed piece Monday for The New Hampshire Union Leader, the prospective Republican presidential contender meant to blast the incumbent for the largest expenditures since World War II.
Colbert addressed the situation last night on his satirical pundit program.
WASHINGTON - British Petroleum’s billion-dollar increase in profits during the first three months of this year has added further fuel to partisan debate in Congress over energy policy and tax breaks for oil companies.
A year ago, BP’s Macondo well exploded and toppled into the Gulf of Mexico, triggering one of the worst oil spills in the nation’s history. The company’s announcement today that it had earned $1.1 billion more in profits in the first quarter of this year than the same period in 2010 earned sharp criticism from US Representative Edward J. Markey of Malden. ConocoPhillips also announced about $1 billion more in profits over that period last year.
“When BP makes billions in profits, even after the year they just had, you know it’s time to cap the gusher of tax breaks that have been subsidizing the biggest oil companies for decades,” said Markey, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee.
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – Donald Trump is well known for having a distaste for one of the most basic human rituals: shaking hands.
"One of the curses of American society is the simple act of shaking hands, and the more successful and famous one becomes the worse this terrible custom seems to get,” he wrote in his 1997 book, “The Art of the Comeback.” “I happen to be a clean hands freak. I feel much better after I thoroughly wash my hands, which I do as much as possible."
So as he launched on a whirlwind trip to New Hampshire today – to meet with activists, donors, and average voters – it was unclear whether he would change his habits and agree to shake hands with the uncleaned masses.
The answer became clear when he entered the Roundabout Diner and Lounge here, and began grabbing hands like it was his job.
“How are you?” he said, extending his arm to one person. “Nice to see you,” he said to another.
“It was very warm and very strong,” Brian Murphy, a 49-year-old independent from Rye, said of the handshake he received. “I was surprised.”
Trump has been known to stretch the truth a bit, and it was no different on his past position on pressing the flesh.
When a reporter commented that he was getting good at shaking hands, he said, “I have no problem with it. That’s a rumor that the enemies say.”
Bill Greene/Globe Staff
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. - With his trademark New York bravado, Donald Trump today said "I'm very proud of myself" for supposedly prompting President Obama to release a copy of his birth certificate.
"I am really honored, frankly, to have played such a big role," the New York real estate mogul and television celebrity told reporters just after the White House announced its release.
The decision came amid lingering suggestions from so-called "birthers" that the president is not a legitimate leader because he allegedly was born in his father's native Kenya and not Hawaii, as the certificate endorses.
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. Donald Trump's New Hampshire schedule is secret no longer.
The prospective Republican presidential contender is scheduled to arrive at 9 a.m. at the Pease International Tradeport.
After a press conference in a Port City Air hangar (which won't begin until the rotors on Trump's helicopter stop - hair concern?), Trump will head to the Roundabout Diner at the Portsmouth Traffic Circle.
Then, at 10:30 a.m., he's slated to visit the Wilcox Industries Corp. in Newington, where he will go on a tour and meet with employees and guests.
At 12:30 p.m., Trump is the headliner at a fundraiser for the New Hampshire Republican Party, which is providing logistical support for his visit.
Then, at 3:15 p.m., Trump is stopping by Newick's Lobster House for what is sure to be a picturesque photo op.
He is due to fly out at 4:50 p.m.
Before this morning, Trump associates had refused to release his schedule, citing concerns about mischief-makers and "security" worries.
Real estate mogul and television celebrity Donald Trump is making his first visit to New Hampshire today as a prospective presidential candidate.
Just don't ask where.
After a press conference at the Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth, the New York Republican is going to try to ditch the media pack as he makes a half-dozen secret stops aimed at introducing him to key players in the lead presidential primary state.
Caroline Kennedy will open a new wing next week at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
The daughter of the slain president will join Director Tom Putnam for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 12:30 p.m. on May 4.
In 2001 the National Archives conducted a program review of the library that concluded that "storage problems seen at the Kennedy Library are the worst in the entire presidential library system.”
Congress approved the funding to design and build a 30,000-square-foot addition to the library building on Columbia Point to ensure the appropriate preservation and security of President Kennedy’s papers and historical artifacts.
JFK was born 94 years ago on May 29.
Alan Khazei today officially declared he is running for the Democratic nomination for the seat currently held by Republican US Senator Scott Brown.
On his website, through Twitter and Facebook, the co-founder of City Year sent out the same message.
"It's official,'' he wrote. “I’m in.''
A two-and-a-half minute announcement video posted on his website offered a more detailed look at his campaign themes.
“As I’ve traveled across our state, I’ve heard from many people who are concerned that opportunity is drying up, that the American dream is in trouble and the system is failing too many Americans,” Khazei says in the video. “It’s stacked in favor of powerful special interests and designed for a time long gone by.”
Veteran Democratic political strategist Joe Trippi has signed on with Somerville activist Bob Massie in his campaign against US Senator Scott Brown.
Massie has already declared his candidacy for next year's Democratic nomination. City Year co-founder Alan Khazei also announced today that he was running.
In a statement, Trippi noted he began his career on the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy's 1980 presidential campaign. The strategist also was instrumental in Howard Dean's surprise showing in the 2004 Democratic presidential primary campaign.
“Bob Massie has a remarkable story in which he has demonstrated insight, courage, and tenacity," Trippi said in a statement. "He will defend the American Dream, excite the Democratic base, draw in independents, and take the seat back from Scott Brown, who simply does not represent the values of Massachusetts."
Massie campaign manager Matt Wilson said: “Joe Trippi’s history motivating and engaging the grassroots is second to none. His experience in local, national, and international politics complements Bob’s vision of a better life for all.”
The public phase of the first day of the federal corruption trial for former House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi has ended.
US District Court Chief Judge Mark Wolf addressed a crowd of 250 prospective jurors before they began filling out a 43-question form designed to gauge their impartiality. The questions were sealed from public inspection.
The judge said the answers would be reviewed afterward, and attorneys in the case would be able to raise any questions on Thursday.
Jurors will then call the court and be instructed whether to return Friday for live questioning from both prosecutors and defense attorneys.
David L. Ryan/Globe Staff
Deval Patrick railed against the "Beacon Hill culture" when he ran for governor in 2006. Now he's part of a trial with the potential to expose its most unsavory elements.
Patrick is the highest-profile potential witness in the trial of former House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, which begins today in federal court as prospective jurors fill out questionnaires. DiMasi, a Boston Democrat, is accused of receiving $65,000 in kickbacks for helping funnel $17.5 million in state contracts to the Burlington software company Cognos.
Richard Vitale, DiMasi's friend and former accountant, and their friend Richard McDonough, are charged with extortion and mail and wire fraud, among other charges, for allegedly misappropriating DiMasi's power as speaker.
Live by the op-ed, die by the op-ed.
Expected Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney learned that today, when he made an apparent gaffe in what has become the favored form of communication in his carefully choreographed pre-campaign run-up: the newspaper op-ed column.
The former Massachusetts governor found that when you virtually limit your media exposure to written columns, as opposed to unrestricted media questions, you can control your message but you also leave no one else to blame when there's trouble.
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour announced today he would not be a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
In a statement, he highlighted the grueling personal commitment that had made his wife, Marsha, wary of such a campaign.
"A candidate for president today is embracing a ten-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else," Barbour said. "His (or her) supporters expect and deserve no less than absolute fire in the belly from their candidate. I cannot offer that with certainty, and total certainty is required."
Brian Blanco for The Boston Globe
None of the best-known potential Republican presidential contenders has yet to formally declare his candidacy, but when they do, it's clear it'll be a two-fer.
Mitt Romney says his wife, Ann, has been the one egging him on to mount a second White House campaign.
Tim Pawlenty doesn't issue a press release without mentioning his wife Mary's assent with the news.
Famed Watergate reporter Bob Woodward is speaking Monday at Tufts University.
The Washington Post journalist will be the 14th speaker in the Richard E. Snyder President's Lecture Series.
He will appear at 4:30 p.m. in Cohen Auditorium in the Aidekman Arts Center.
Tickets are free but they must be reserved by calling Laurie Tautkas at 617-627-3416.
Snyder graduated from Tufts in 1955 and is the former chairman and CEO of Simon & Schuster. The lecture series was established in 2004 to attract speakers who have challenged conventional wisdom in their professional work.
President Obama didn't exactly blame the American people for missing the point last night as his poll numbers have plunged, but he did state they have been so focused on their daily lives they haven't focused deeply enough on the broader, more thematic underpinnings of the great recent congressional debates.
Addressing a star-studded fundraiser audience at the Tavern restaurant in Los Angeles that included actors Tom Hanks and George Clooney, Obama said he expected the majority of voters to end up siding with him when they focus their attention on the candidates, the policies they propose, and their personal values during next year's campaign.
Massachusetts listeners can't but hear the echoes of the "values" focus that Governor Deval Patrick offered during his successful reelection campaign last fall, and which he has continued amid his recent book tour.
Those of us who covered the Kerry for President campaign in 2004 felt a special horror in yesterday's news about the two photographers who were killed in Libya.
The more widely known to the world, perhaps, was Tim Hetherington, who received an Academy Award nomination for "Restrepo," his documentary about a US platoon in an Afghanistan valley.
The more closely known to the campaign travelers, though, was Chris Hondros of Getty Images. He rode the Kerry plane often and brought his combat photography skills to the political arena.
Senator John Kerry just issued a statement in which the Massachusetts Democrat recounts many of Hondros's traits and campaign moments:
WASHINGTON Likely presidential contender Mitt Romney today criticized President Obama for not being clearer on the mission in Libya, saying that the United States was entering into a "mission creep" in the war-torn country.
“It is apparent that our military is engaged in much more than enforcing a no-fly zone,” Romney wrote in a blog post on National Review Online. “What we are watching in real time is another example of mission creep and mission muddle.”
“Military action cannot be under-deliberated and ad hoc,” Romney added. “The president owes it to the American people and Congress to immediately explain his new Libya mission and its strategic rationale.”
Congressman Edward Markey, a Malden Democrat, and a group of “seniors, working families, and health care providers” will rally in Brighton today against a US House Republican plan to dramatically change Medicare, the health care program for the elderly, and Medicaid, which provides health care to low income people. The rally is 1 p.m. at the Veronica Smith Senior Center.
“Republicans in the House of Representatives are advocating dangerous cuts to Medicare and Medicaid that do nothing to address skyrocketing health care costs or the real causes of federal deficits,” according to a notice for the event sent out by organizers. “Their proposal will cut benefits for seniors, increase premiums and end guaranteed coverage.”
The GOP budget plan would replace the current Medicare system with a program to provide seniors money to buy their own private health insurance, and would transform Medicaid into a Block Grant program for states.
Mark Arsenault can be reached at email@example.com.
Expected Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney is trying to pick and choose which media outlets he appears in before he makes any formal announcement, but there was no avoiding The Onion today.
The satirical newspaper posted a mock article in which the former Massachusetts governor ostensibly regretted signing the state's universal health care law in 2006.
"Every day I am haunted by the fact that I gave impoverished Massachusetts citizens a chance to receive health care," The Onion "quotes" Romney as saying in the satirical piece. "I'm only human, and I've made mistakes. None bigger, of course, than helping cancer patients receive chemotherapy treatments and making sure that those suffering from pediatric AIDS could obtain medications, but that's my cross to bear."
Again, it's satire. I think.
Governor Deval Patrick, pressed about his aspirations for higher
office during an appearance on national television today, said he would
not run against US Senator Scott Brown, even if President Obama urged
him to do so.
"That conversation is not going to happen, and I've been very clear I
do not want to serve in the United States Senate," Patrick said during
a five-minute interview with Matt Lauer on the "Today" show.
Patrick was appearing on the show to promote his memoir, and Lauer,
who introduced the governor as a "rising star," asked several times
whether the book was a precursor to a run for national office. Patrick
insisted it was not.
Senator Scott Brown, who has been sharply criticized by environmentalists for a recent vote on air pollution control, wants to reduce energy costs, wean the nation off foreign oil and increase domestic energy production.
With gas prices soaring and families preparing to fill their tanks for summer vacations, the Massachusetts Republican plans to introduce bipartisan legislation in coming weeks intended to decrease gas use, increase efficiency and require energy audits of federal projects.
A video press release from Brown accompanied the announcement, in which Brown said “the status quo is not acceptable when it comes to our energy policy.”
“We must start to develop more of the domestic sources of energy here at home in an environmentally-friendly manner. We need to take an all-of-the-above approach, and this includes wind, solar, hydro, geo-thermal, clean coal, natural as, biofuels, conservation, R & D tax credits -- everything must be on the table,” he said.
He did not mention drilling, which was included in the prepared script of the video.
The raft of three bills will include legislation giving tax-credits to businesses that retrofit their vehicles with hybrid technology; another bill would provide more disclosure of home energy use; and a third would require energy audits of federally funded projects.
Environmental groups criticized Brown after he voted earlier this month in favor of a budget amendment that would have stripped the EPA of its authority to regulate greenhouse gases. In addition, Brown was recently caught on camera asking for a campaign donation from billionaire David Koch, whom critics accuse of bankrolling opposition to greenhouse gas regulation. Brown later received a $2,500 donation from Koch Industries’ political action committee.
Asked about the timing of Brown’s legislative announcement, a spokesman said in an email that “Senator Brown believes these proposals are positive first steps toward addressing skyrocketing energy costs.”
Theo Emery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @temery.
Expected Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney wants President Obama to personally meet with officials from Standard & Poor's after the financial agency maintained the country's AAA bond rating on Monday but downgraded its long-term outlook from "stable" to "negative."
“If you will, they downgraded the Obama presidency," Romney said today during an interview on the San Diego-based “Mark Larson Show."
"In my own view, this is not something to be laughed off as the president’s people seem to be doing. The president really ought to personally sit down and meet with S&P. I did that when I was governor (of Massachusetts); I met with the ratings agencies and talked about our future and tried to instill confidence in our future because, look, how they rate our debt and how they rate our future as a nation will affect the interest costs that we end up paying and will affect homeowners and borrowers all over the country," said Romney.
Senator Scott Brown says people demanding he name the former counselor who allegedly sexually abused him when he attended a Cape Cod summer camp as a 10-year-old "have no clue" about working through such an episode.
The Massachusetts Republican made the allegation in mid-February when released his new book, "Against All Odds." But since then, he has refused to name the camp where the alleged abuse occurred, the counselor he says abused him, or provide authorities with information for a possible prosecution.
The senator has explained that he wants to move on with his life, even as critics suggest remaining silent has allowed an abuser to go unpunished and possibly victimized others.
Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar is coming to Boston tomorrow to make an undisclosed announcement related to the Cape Wind offshore wind energy project.
He will appear at 10:30 a.m. at Pier 1 of the Charlestown Navy Yard along with Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Richard K. Sullivan Jr. and and Cape Wind Associates Vice President Dennis Duffy.
Cape Wind is proposed for federal waters nearly five miles off Cape Cod. Over 100 generators spread across 25 square miles of Nantucket Sound would produce up to 468 megawatts of power.
U.S. Representative John Tierney wants an end to government tax breaks and loopholes that he says cost the government billions of dollars a year, and is hoping that fiscal conservatives will join him in the effort.
The Salem Democrat plans to file legislation in coming weeks called the Tax Equity and Middle Class Fairness Act of 2011 which would end over two dozen so-called “tax expenditures” which divert revenues out of treasury coffers.
Those expenditures include subsidies, tax credits, exclusions and exemptions for individuals and corporations that are difficult to root out of the tax code.
While Tierney calculates that there are some 250 such expenditures in all, the bill targets only about 30 of them; the General Accounting Office would review the rest and report to Congress.
“We found what we though were some obvious ones that we could address in the short term,” he said.
The legislation, which is still being finalized and does not yet have co-sponsors, would eliminate tax breaks for oil, gas and coal companies; write-offs for corporate meals and entertainment; and agribusiness and timber subsidies.
Tierney said that he hopes deficit hawks among House Republicans will join him in the effort, although he doesn’t have any commitments yet.
“I would hope that we’ve get some support on the fiscally conservative side, because it certainly is as fiscally conservative a measure as anything that’s going to be proposed on that,” he said.
Columbia University economics professor Joseph E. Stiglitz, a former chief economist for the World Bank who joined Tierney on a conference call about the legislation, said that the current debate the proposal is timely amid ongoing debate over spending and the deficit.
“Now that the budget issue has come to the fore, this is precisely a good time to address this long-standing problem in our whole fiscal situation,” he said.
Theo Emery can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @temery.
WASHINGTON — US Senator Scott Brown took some ribbing after a liberal blog last month posted video of the Massachusetts Republican asking conservative billionaire David Koch for support in his next campaign—but Brown’s request apparently worked.
Shortly after his conversation with Koch, Brown received a $2,500 donation to his campaign fund from Koch Industries through its political action committee, according to campaign finance reports made public yesterday.
The blog, Think Progress, shot the video of Brown and Koch at a March 4 event at the David H. Koch Integrative Cancer Institute at MIT. In the video, Brown is seen telling Koch, “Your support during the election, it meant a ton. It made a difference and I can certainly use it again.”
The video was posted March 7. Brown’s campaign reported it received Koch’s contribution on March 11.
Mark Arsenault can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senator Scott Brown threw out the first pitch before the Patriots Day game between the Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays.
Then he headed to the NESN broadcast booth and described the jealousy some fellow members of Congress feel over the success of his hometown teams.
"People don't realize when you're in a state where they have no chance of ever winning anything, the amount of jealousy amongst the senators and the congressmen, 'Oh, my gosh, you're from Boston? The Red Sox, the Celtics, the Bruins,' everyone's always in the playoffs, always in the hunt," Brown to play-by-play man Don Orsillo and color commentator Jerry Remy.
"If you're down in Washington or Baltimore, they're not quite there," said the senator, who was dressed in a Red Sox warm-up jacket for the occasion.
Nonetheless, Brown said he has attended some Washington Nationals games with his family and staff, to relax with the former and work on team-building with the latter.
Senator Scott Brown is taking a tour tomorrow of XL Hybrids, a Somerville-based company that converts standard gasoline engines into hybrids.
The tour will occur from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Afterward, Brown will hold a press conference to discuss his proposed legislation for reducing energy costs.
Potential US Senate candidate Alan Khazei has announced the first event for his campaign exploratory committee.
In a Facebook posting, the Democrat said he would meet with supporters at 6 p.m. on April 26 at the Old South Meeting House in Boston.
"I would love the opportunity to share with you my thoughts on how to get our country back on the right track and also hear your ideas and thoughts," said Khazei. "I look forward to meeting and listening to the voters of the commonwealth to hear their concerns and ideas about the challenges and opportunities facing our state and country."
President Obama's deficit-reduction speech wasn't just about numbers but what kind of country America will become, Governor Deval Patrick said this morning during an appearance on ABC's "This Week" news program.
While Republicans have criticized the partisan nature of last week's address, in which Obama proposed cutting $4 trillion over 12 years, Patrick said the critics glossed over its overarching theme.
“It’s a fiscally responsible but also mutually responsible kind of community, and I support that," the governor told host Christiane Amanpour.
Amid rancorous debate in Congress over spending and taxes, the White House flipped the switch today on an online system for calculating where tax revenues are being spent.
The White House launched its “Federal Taxpayer Receipt” site on what is typically the deadline for Americans to file their tax returns, although this year taxes are due on April 18. The administration said the site was an effort to increase government openness and transparency.
“Today, we’re hopeful that with this tool for regular Americans, everyday Americans, they can actually see these dollars flowing as easily as one can click a mouse,” said Aneesh Chopra, the White House chief technology officer.
By plugging in the amounts of federal taxes deducted from paychecks, taxpayers can see how much of their taxes go to different parts of the federal government, such as defense, health care and veterans services.
President Obama had called for such a system in his State of the Union speech this year. Senator Scott Brown, a Massachusetts Republican, co-sponsored legislation last month with Democrat Bill Nelson of Florida that would require the IRS to send a receipt to every person who files a tax return.
"I believe that providing Americans with an itemized receipt of how the government is spending their money will help improve transparency and accountability as we work to rein in federal spending and deal with our record debt,” Brown said.
Pete Sepp, a spokesman for the National Taxpayers Union, a free-market group that seeks lower taxes, said the site could be helpful in showing how the federal tax system is what he called "one big transfer payment."
"Yes, they'll see considerable amounts for the military and smaller ones for things like highways but many folks will likely see for the first time that much of the money coming out of their paychecks is winding up in someone else's check," he said.
Theo Emery can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @temery.
Brian Blanco for The Boston Globe
ORLANDO Former Governor Mitt Romney this morning criticized President Obama’s deficit reduction plan as “deceptive and intellectually dishonest,” but largely strayed from outlining what his own proposals would look like.
He also did not fully embrace the House Republican plan to curb spending in the cherished entitlement programs Medicaid and Medicare, saying at one point that “it’s essential for us to protect Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security as safety nets for the American people.”
Republican presidential candidates have struggled to discuss both the desire to cut spending, and whether those cuts should include the politically popular entitlement programs that make up the largest chunk of spending. Romney said he supported Representative Paul Ryan for bringing the ideas forward.
“I applaud the fact that we are now talking about this issue,” Romney said, in his first public appearance since announcing on Monday that he was forming a presidential exploratory committee. “Chairman Ryan’s plan is not identical, I don’t imagine, to what I’ll be putting forward in a campaign that will potentially go forward. But it’s the right step. We’re on the same page, to put this agenda out there and talk about spending restraint.”
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Representative Edward J. Markey accused the Nuclear Regulatory Commission today of concealing inspection results at U.S. nuclear power plants and limiting the scope and length of reactor inspections.
In a letter to commission Chairman Greg Jaczko, the Malden Democrat protested what he said were limits on inspectors checking U.S. nuclear reactors in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that badly damaged the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan.
“We should stand prepared to learn from the catastrophe in Japan and plan ahead to address what was unforeseen but occurred anyway, rather than attempting to hide our vulnerabilities from public view,” he wrote.
Commission spokeswoman Prema Chandrathil said the ongoing review of safety at U.S. plants goes "far beyond" physical inspections at plants, and is looking for problems other than just design flaws. Moreover, she said, a report on safety at U.S. plants will be made public at the end of a lengthy review process.
While some findings at plants are generally not made public because of post-Sept. 11 security measures, she said the commission always takes action when warranted.
“In response to the events in Japan, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will take any regulatory action deemed necessary, she said.
After last month’s disaster, the commission announced increased inspections of all U.S. nuclear plants to ensure their safety. It has also sent inspectors to aid Japanese authorities.
Markey alleged that the commission’s review of domestic plants is inadequate, and conceals vital information from the public. Inspectors are limited to 40 hours for single-reactor plants and 50-60 hours for multi-reactor plants, according to Markey, which is not enough to full inspect plants.
In addition, inspectors were initially not allowed to look for safety vulnerabilities to unanticipated catastrophic events, he claimed. An outcry from inspectors allowed them to do so, but they were not permitted to note them in writing, putting them instead in a secret database and shielding them from public scrutiny, he said.
“The fact that they plan to keep the most serious vulnerabilities secret raises questions about whether the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is more interested in public relations than public safety,” Markey said.
Markey, who has held his seat since 1976, cast his 20,000 vote yesterday on the House floor.
Theo Emery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @temery.
Both Massachusetts senators voted against a budget amendment today that would have banned federal funds from going to Planned Parenthood, a measure that was part of a bargain struck last week to avoid a government shutdown.
Scott Brown, a Republican, and John Kerry, a Democrat, were among those voting against the Planned Parenthood resolution, which was defeated 58-42. Both senators went on to vote for the six-month budget measure funding the government through September.
"As I've said before, I believe this particular cut goes too far," Brown said in a brief statement.
Brown’s vote earned praise from Dianne Luby, president of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, who said the amendment would have cut off federal funds for a range of women’s health services, from breast cancer screening to HIV testing.
“Clearly, Senator Brown was listening to his constituents when he cast his vote to protect women’s health,” Luby said in a statement. “He understands that Planned Parenthood is an essential community provider and that cutting off access to critical preventive health services is not smart public health or fiscal policy.”
The vote was included in a pact that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and President Obama reached late last week just before a midnight deadline to fund the government.
During the tense budget talks, House Republicans had sought to ban the use of federal funds for Planned Parenthood because the organization provides abortions, although federal law already prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for most abortions. The issue became a major obstacle to a budget deal long after spending reductions and disagreement over other social issues had been decided.
The Planned Parenthood amendment allowed the measure to receive a debate and a vote in the Senate, where the Democrats have a majority, and its defeat was expected.
Theo Emery can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @temery.
The United Nations confirmed today that last week’s Iraqi army raid of Camp Ashraf resulted in the deaths of 34 Iranian exiles. Camp Ashraf is home to many members of the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, a group in opposition to Iran’s clerical leaders that had found refuge in Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s regime. The Iraqi government has announced an investigation into the incident.
"The current situation at the camp is untenable,” Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts said in a statement that condemned the Iraqi military’s “massacre.” Kerry also called on the United States, the United Nations, the European Union, to help all parties find "a peaceful and durable solution," and permanent homes for the Camp Ashraf residents.
Read Kerry’s full statement below.
Representative James McGovern, a Worcester Democrat, joined a bipartisan effort to link the escalating budget deficit with the on-going costs of the Afghan war.
"This week we are debating a budget that purports to represent new fiscal restraint, yet continues to borrow tens of billions of dollars for the war in Afghanistan," McGovern said Thursday at an event on Capitol Hill organized by Brave New Foundation, a California-based social justice organization. "I'm tired of being told that we don't have enough money for education or infrastructure or medical research, but we can afford to spend billions of dollars propping up a corrupt regime in Kabul."
McGovern has been working with Representative Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, to introduce legislation as early as May that would require exit strategy from Afghanistan.
"President Obama has said that we will begin to withdraw our troops in July of this year. We must hold him to that promise," McGovern said. "Rather than nation-building in Afghanistan, we need to do some more nation-building right here at home."
The event was part of a Brave New Foundation's Rethink Afghanistan campaign, which seeks to highlight the costs of the war by building a web site that calculates how much an American citizen has contributed to the war's cost.
Farah Stockman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Glen Johnson/Globe Staff
HOOKSETT, N.H. With a 22-person media contingent outside, and only a handful of prospective voters inside, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour wasn't trying to conceal the message he was sending to New Hampshire voters as he wound down his first visit of the year as a prospective presidential contender.
I'm one of you, he said with deeds as much as words nonetheless spoken with a Southern drawl.
WASHINGTON – Senator Scott Brown’s communications director is leaving to join Mitt Romney’s emerging presidential campaign, the former Massachusetts governor announced this morning.
Gail Gitcho, who joined Brown just as he took office in February 2010, was previously a regional press secretary during Romney’s 2008 presidential bid. She later was the mid-Atlantic communications director for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, and then served as national press secretary for the Republican National Committee.
Gitcho is leaving Brown’s staff at a crucial time, as he prepares to run for reelection in Massachusetts in a race that will draw national attention. She also joins Romney at a crucial time, as he prepares for a second presidential run.
It also highlights the overlap between the advisers for Brown and Romney – two candidates whose political careers and personas are very different but who are advised by many of the same people. Both Massachusetts Republicans will continue consult a trio that has steered campaigns for both before – Eric Fehrnstrom, Peter Flaherty, and Beth Myers.
Globe colleague Glen Johnson wrote three weeks ago about the political tightrope the candidates – and staffs – will have to walk as the campaigns get underway.
Glen Johnson/Globe Staff
MANCHESTER, N.H. Who knew?
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour claimed a New England connection this morning as he confessed to being a Boston Red Sox fan on the strength of his longtime friendship with a former team catcher.
Stopping by a frequent political haunt, the Chez Vachon on the west side of Manchester, Barbour told a table that included Mayor Ted Gatsas that he played on a two-time state high school championship team with future Red Sox player Jerry Moses.
Glen Johnson/Globe Staff
BOW, N.H. Southern charm collided with Yankee skepticism last night as Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour made his first visit of the year to New Hampshire as a prospective presidential candidate.
With his trademark drawl and affable demeanor, Barbour worked a crowd of about 30 people at the home of former New Hampshire Republican Party chairwoman Jayne Millerick, introducing himself by saying simply, "Hi, I'm Haley."
(See my earlier post here.)
Then he was peppered with questions about everything from his views on spending cuts and entitlement reform to US intervention in Libya, as voters in the lead presidential primary state upheld their tradition as vetters-in-chief of would-be commanders-in-chief.
Glen Johnson/Globe Staff
BOW, N.H. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour tonight told an audience in the lead presidential primary state of New Hampshire he would offer "casual, comfortable, plainspoken commonsense" if he decided to seek the Republican nomination.
He argued that the American people "are tired of happy talk," and need straight information about cutting government spending while also resisting the temptation to raise taxes.
He pledged a decision about his candidacy by the end of the month, as he kicked off a two-day trip that was his first to the state this year.
WASHINGTON — Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick today paused his media book tour to offer a strong report card for the Bay State’s 2006 health reform law, and to urge opponents of national health care reform to turn away from trying to repeal the law, and focus on controlling medical costs.
“Health care reform is doing exactly what it was designed to do,” said Patrick, in a short speech on the Bay State’s health reform overhaul. “We do indeed lead the nation in providing health care to our residents.”
Patrick marked the law’s fifth anniversary this afternoon with remarks and a panel discussion at the Center for American Progress, a liberal Washington think tank. His appearance at the forum came among national media appearances to promote his memoir, "A Reason to Believe." He has appeared on NPR radio, on CNN, MSNBC and Tuesday night sat for an interview on “The Daily Show.”FULL ENTRY
WASHINGTON Expected Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney immediately pounced on President Obama’s deficit-cutting proposal, saying it didn’t go far enough and relied too heavily on tax increases.
“President Obama’s proposals are too little, too late,” Romney said in a statement released minutes after Obama today finished his speech outlining his plan. “Instead of supporting spending cuts that lead to real deficit reduction and true reform of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, the President dug deep into his liberal playbook for ‘solutions’ highlighted by higher taxes.”
Obama proposed a menu of options to reduce the deficit, including cuts in defense spending, an overhaul of the tax system, and an end to Bush-era tax cuts for wealthier Americans. The plan would lower the deficit by about $4 trillion over a dozen years.
Obama’s proposal comes in response to a House Republican plan that would cut $5.8 trillion in spending over the next decade. That plan would allow the Bush tax cuts now set to expire in 2012 to be extended indefinitely, and Republicans have opposed any proposal to end the tax break.
"With over 20 million people who are unemployed or who have stopped looking for work, the last thing we should be doing is raising taxes on job-creators, entrepreneurs, and small business owners across America,” Romney said in his statement.
So when is a would-be president officially a candidate?
It's a hard question to answer, since some of the rules and regulations are gray, and enforcement of them all can depend on whether a prospective candidate faces a complaint alleging their breach.
Right now, the most prominent official candidate for president of the United States is the person who already has the job, Democrat Barack Obama.
Attorney General Martha Coakley today announced a complaint against Christy Mihos, accusing the former GOP gubernatorial contender of campaign finance violations during his 2009-2010 campaign.
In a press release, Coakley said:
In July 2010, Mihos and the Christy 2010 Committee (the Committee) signed a disposition agreement (the Agreement) and agreed to pay a $70,000 fine resulting from various violations of the campaign finance laws found by (the Office of Campaign and Political Finance).
The violations recited in the Agreement included Mihos using approximately $112,000 from his personal accounts to pay for campaign related expenditures; accepting campaign contributions in excess of the $500 annual limit per individual; and failing to keep detailed accounts of expenditures and contributions made and received on behalf of the committee.
The attorney general’s complaint, filed today in Suffolk Superior Court, alleges that Mihos is in breach of the Agreement due to his failure to pay the full amount of the fine to OCPF.
The complaint alleges that the Agreement, signed by Mihos, required him to pay a fine of $70,000 to OCPF. Mihos made an initial payment of $35,000 on August 3, 2010. Mihos requested and received from OCPF an extension of time to pay the remaining $35,000. Both parties agreed that Mihos would pay $10,000 of the remaining balance on November 18, 2010, and the remaining $25,000 by February 1, 2011. Mihos paid the $10,000 due on November 18, 2010, but failed to pay the remaining $25,000 balance by February 1, 2011.
After Mihos failed to make the final payment, OCPF referred the matter to the Attorney General’s Office for enforcement. The Attorney General’s Office made additional attempts to collect the money that Mihos owed to OCPF. Mihos failed to pay the remaining balance of $25,000. As a result, the Attorney General’s Office filed a complaint in Suffolk Superior Court on behalf of OCPF alleging that Mihos is in breach of contract.
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Sarah Joss of AG Coakley’s Government Bureau.
House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, setting up a fight with unions, today proposed a $30.5 billion annual state budget that cuts more deeply than Governor Deval Patrick’s proposal and goes further than the governor to strip local public employees of their right to bargain over health care.
House leaders said their plan would cut $94 million more than Patrick’s proposal unveiled in January, and would represent the biggest year-to-year cut in state spending in two decades. The Senate still has not released its proposed budget.
State leaders are grappling with the loss of $1.5 billion in federal stimulus funds and a shaky economic recovery.
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images
During the 2004 presidential campaign, Senator John Kerry thought so highly of Senator John McCain that the Democratic presidential nominee broached the idea of joining forces with the Arizona Republican on a bipartisan White House ticket.
McCain politely declined, swallowed his pride, and made up that year with George W. Bush, who had savaged him during the 2000 GOP South Carolina primary en route to the presidency.
Bush ended up beating Kerry for a second term.
Governor Deval Patrick endured some friendly ribbing about the state’s health care law and his political future from Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” last night. But Patrick mostly stuck to script and let Stewart make the jokes.
Poking fun at the governor’s declaration that he is guided by conviction and idealism, Stewart said, “This politics of conviction, this idealism, have you ever thought of giving those up to run for national office?”
“I’m not running for anything else,” Patrick said, laughing. “But I haven’t given up those ideals and those values for any job.”
“I look forward to the system corrupting you,” Stewart quipped.
“Not gonna happen,” Patrick shot back in his 8-minute spot on the show, which he flew to New York to tape.
Patrick’s appearance was part of a flurry of national media appearances he is making over the next two weeks to sell his memoir, “A Reason To Believe.”
Mitt Romney tonight pushed back against those in his party who are questioning President Obama's citizenship, suggesting his fellow Republicans should put their energy into more substantive issues.
"The citizenship test has been passed," Romney said tonight on CNBC's Kudlow Report. "I believe the president was born in the United States. There are real reasons to get this guy out of office...but his citizenship isn't the reason why."
Several prominent Republicans including Donald Trump and Sarah Palin have once again tried to stoke controversy by questioning Obama's citizenship even though his birth in Hawaii has been confirmed by officials in the state.
Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson said today he will make a "major announcement" on April 21 in New Hampshire.
Since the Republican previously said he would eschew the interim step of forming a presidential exploratory committee, and instead plunge directly into a campaign itself if he were to run, that announcement most likely is of his decision to become a candidate for the 2012 GOP nomination.
The announcement will be made at 9 a.m. at the Capitol in Concord, and his followup schedule only perpetuates the thought that he will declare his candidacy.
He will meet with the media for two hours afterward, lunch with state legislators, and then hold what is billed as a "public kick-off event" in Manchester.
A similar schedule holds for the next two days.
Amid all the fluff and confection of presenting Mitt Romney with cakes celebrating today's fifth anniversary of the Massachusetts universal health care law, state Democrats also produced a video with some meat on its bones.
"Thank You Mitt" contains clips of Romney, then the Bay State's governor, touting the law during appearances on the Fox News Channel and, gasp, MSNBC back in 2006.
The most potentially problematic comment is Romney claiming he "authored" the measure, since many of his fellow conservatives view the law as a precursor to the federal universal health care law enacted last year by President Obama.
Congress begins a new scramble today to pass a budget bill cutting billions of dollars in spending this year, resetting the clock on the next deadline to keep the federal government running.
Early this morning, aides completed work on an appropriations bill that cuts nearly $40 billion in spending. The committee staff have been working around the clock on the bill since House Republicans, Senate Democrats, and the White House shook hands on a deal that averted a government shutdown last Friday at midnight.
The bargain makes about $27 billion in new cuts on top of roughly $12 billion that have been previously agreed to. While the Obama administration and others have described the broad outlines of the agreement, details only emerged with the release of the bill this morning.
Former Massachusetts Governor William F. Weld, the Republican who launched a 16-year period of GOP rule on Beacon Hill, favored an expression apparently shared by Mitt Romney, the former governor who concluded their party's era of State House control.
"Revenge is a dish best served cold," Weld would say, quoting a phrase used in everything from the French novel "Mathilde" to "The Godfather" and "Star Trek II."
In announcing his presidential exploratory committee in a deliberately understated way, Romney declared his intentions on his terms and in his own tone with a variety of messages for an array of audiences.
WASHINGTON Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney this afternoon announced he was forming a presidential exploratory committee, allowing him to start raising money for a presidential bid he has been preparing for almost since the moment he lost the 2008 Republican nomination.
Romney made the announcement in a video posted on a new website. It was taped with little fanfare at the University of New Hampshire following a meeting between the Romney and students who said they were worried about getting a job after graduation.
“I have become convinced that America has been put on a dangerous course by Washington politicians, and it has become even worse during the last two years. But I am also convinced that with able leadership, America's best days are still ahead,” Romney says in the video. “That is why today I am announcing my exploratory committee for the presidency of the United States.”
Romney is planning to open his campaign headquarters next month in Boston – in the same building his last campaign was based, on Commercial Street in the North End. Romney aides declined to say whether he would participate in the first GOP presidential debate, scheduled for May 5 in South Carolina.FULL ENTRY
The Massachusetts Republican Party has landed two high-profile guests for upcoming fundraisers.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will appear April 28 at the Union Club on Beacon Hill.
There is a $500 charge for a private roundtable discussion at 5:30 p.m. and a $150 charge for a general reception at 6 p.m.
On May 10, former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer will appear at the Union Oyster House at 11:45 a.m. There is a $75 charge, including lunch.
Details are available at 617-523-5005.
David L. Ryan, Globe Staff
Northeast Democrats will be at their most creative today and tomorrow, as they aim to tweak Republican Mitt Romney in conjunction with the fifth anniversary of the Massachusetts universal health care law.
New Hampshire Democrats are sending out an email at 9 a.m. today, urging their supporters to flood Romney's official Twitter handle, @MittRomney, with thanks and congratulations for a piece of legislation that is anathema to many of his fellow conservatives across the country.
The 2006 Massachusetts law, signed while Romney was governor of the state, became the model for the 2010 federal universal health care law signed by President Obama, the Democrat he hopes to face in next year's presidential race.
Governor Deval Patrick's planned appearance Monday on NBC-TV's "Today" show is being postponed until later this week.
The date still has yet to be set, but spokesman Steve Crawford said the Democrat fell prey to the crush of recent news, including the near-government shutdown that finally was resolved just before midnight Friday.
Instead, the governor will spend Monday in Boston.
This week is the launch of the book tour for the governor's memoir, "A Reason to Believe."
Patrick is still slated to head to New York on Tuesday for a series of stops, including Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart.
Governor Deval Patrick embarks on his booktour Monday, with a pretty good first stop: A time slot in the 7 a.m. hour on NBC-TV's "Today" show.
It's shown locally on WHDH-TV (Channel 7).
It's still unclear who will interview him, but the governor is expected to talk about his memoir, "A Reason to Believe."
As a friend and political ally of President Obama, he could also expect questions about any government shutdown, the fifth anniversary of the Massachusetts health care law (on Tuesday), and his dust-up with Senator Scott Brown at today's groundbreaking for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.
The governor is coming back to Massachusetts after the show, but heading back to New York on Tuesday for a series of stops, including Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart.
Several readers have written in the aftermath of my recent post about the wonderful annual spring White House Garden Tour being offered this weekend.
They have asked whether the tours would be affected by a federal government shutdown, and the answer is yes.
A White House official told me that all tours of the president's home would be cancelled during a shutdown, including garden tours.
President Obama and his family were supposed to vacate the premises this weekend and visit Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, but that trip has been scotched as the administration tries to avert a shutdown at midnight.
If one were avoided, the silver lining for anyone on a garden tour is that they would apparently gain a chance to see the president.
The White House also offers garden tours each fall, typically in October assuming any shutdown doesn't last that long.
Massachusetts Democrats plan to mark Tuesday's fifth anniversary of the state's universal health care law with balloons, speeches, and a sheetcake.
For former Governor Mitt Romney.
The tweak is aimed at embarrassing the expected Republican presidential contenders as he continues to criticize the Obama administration's federal universal health care law that is based on his Massachusetts law.
WASHINGTON -- Senator John Kerry today lamented the inability of Washington politicians to reach a compromise on the federal budget and avert a shutdown, invoking the spirit of a great compromiser, the late Edward M. Kennedy.
He said he had planned to be in Boston to attend today's groundbreaking for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate but was unable to leave the Capitol because of the ongoing negotiations.
Kerry called the budget showdown and threat of a government shutdown an "embarrassing moment" for the Senate.
"Generations of young Americans will come to the Kennedy Institute to understand what the United States Senate was intended to be," Kerry said on the Senate floor today. "But 100 Senators don’t need to wait that long. We can do what Ted Kennedy and so many other Senators of both parties used to know how to do – which is find common ground and insist on common sense.”
The full text of Kerry's prepared remarks is below.FULL ENTRY
The U.S. Chamber Of Commerce President Thomas Donohue told a group of reporters at a breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor on Friday that the brinksmanship over a tiny slice of the federal budget -- 1.7 percent of total federal outlays -- will press Congress to reluctantly grapple with the bigger issues of entitlements.
"It will be ugly, it will take time, but we will do some good amount of the things on the table for our survival," he said.
The Chamber of Commerce has been urging members of Congress to avoid a government shut down, arguing that it could damage the economy if it lasts more than a few days by delaying the pay checks of federal employees. Donohue said a short shutdown may ultimately not have a negative effect.
"I think we've had shutdowns starting in 1975, about 15 or 20 times to this point. Most of them were very short. One of them was 21 days, but most of them were a day and a half, two days, three days, five days. So, no, I don't think it upsets economic growth that much," said Donohue. "It certainly upsets the people that have to run our government."
The Chamber of Commerce, under R. Bruce Josten, Executive Vice President For Government Affairs, is putting together a coalition to raise the debt limit, but with conditions attached that would reign in federal spending in other ways.
"We have been telling people 'Work it out. Get it done,'" Josten said. "We appreciate the theatrics [of the threatened shut-down]. . .Eventually we are going to get there."
Glen Johnson/Globe Staff
The words and spirit of Senator Edward M. Kennedy were evoked this morning at the groundbreaking ceremony for the educational institute that will bear the late Democrat’s name.
Under glorious skies, hundreds of former staffers, local and national political figures, as well as average citizens, flocked to the groundbreaking for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. It will be built, starting later this summer, on Columbia Point next to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
Among those in attendance were the senator’s widow, Victoria Reggie Kennedy; children, Edward Jr., Kara, and Patrick; as well as relatives Caroline Kennedy, Joseph P. Kennedy II, and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.
Glen Johnson/Globe Staff
12:09 p.m. - Speechmaking over, the family is now heading outside to toss dirt.
Thanks for reading.
12:04 p.m. - Vicki Kennedy asked the whole family to join her on stage, and standing right in front, in brilliant red, is the senator's first wife, Joan.
Vicki Kennedy said she wants the center to be exciting and dynamic, and cutting-edge, because her late husband was all three.
Among the two dozen family members is Amy Petigout, who recently became engaged to former Representative Patrick Kennedy, the senator's youngest child.
She leaned against her fiance.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is delivering the inaugural Alan D. Solomont Lecture at Tufts University today.
The California Democrat, who served as the first female speaker of the House, planned to reflect on her career and the importance of public service during a 2 p.m. address in the school's Cohen Auditorium.
This lecture is part of the 10th anniversary celebration of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service.
Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff
Before Boston sports fans tune into the Red Sox-Yankees Opening Day game this afternoon, Boston political fans will gather this morning for a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the future Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.
While much of the pre-ceremony attention has focused on Victoria Reggie Kennedy's efforts to preserve her late husband's legacy, she is far from the only member of the famous political family who will be on hand.
The senator's three children Edward Jr., Kara, and Patrick will attend, as will their aunt, Jean Kennedy Smith, the last surviving child of Rose and Joseph Kennedy, and his two stepchildren, Curran and Caroline Raclin.
After Senator Edward M. Kennedy died in August 2009, one of the most wrenching tasks for his wife, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, was dismantling his office on Capitol Hill.
As much history museum as workspace, its family and political mementos included a letter hanging on the wall from a 14-year-old John F. Kennedy to his mother, Rose. In it, the future president asked if he could be godfather to the family’s final child, whom they would call “Teddy.”
One by one, Vicki Kennedy packed up each item and tucked away the memories attached to it.
Within the next three years, she plans to hang that letter up again this time in a replica of her husband’s office that will be part of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.
“It was such a special thing, to go into that office and see that history on the wall and to just feel, really the magic of that, and so we are going to recreate that,” she said during an interview Wednesday.
Senate President Therese Murray vowed today to take swift action on Governor Deval Patrick's proposal to overhaul the state's health care finance system, breaking with House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who wants to delay action until later this year or next year.
During a speech before the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Murray said "I agree with the governor that something has to be done soon," and added that "we are getting close ... we are going to do this."
Murray did not offer a specific timeline, but said the Senate would act "in the near future," unlike the House, which she said is proceeding more slowly because a key committee leader is new in the job and lacks experience in such complex policy.
She was referring to Representative Steven Walsh, the new co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing.
Mike Coppola/Getty Images
Caroline Kennedy will promote a book containing a collection of poems she edited tomorrow afternoon at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
The daughter of President Kennedy will deliver an introduction before poets Naomi Shibab Nye and Elizabeth Alexander read from her collection, "She Walks in Beauty: A Woman's Journey Through Poems."
Afterward, Kennedy will be signing copies of the book.
Public seating for the readings is now closed, but the book-signing will be available to all.
The forum will be webcast live at www.jfklibrary.org/webcast.
The event will run from 4-5 p.m. in the Stephen Smith Hall.
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, held a second hearing on Libya today, this time with skeptics of the intervention.
After prodding by ranking member Richard Lugar, an Indiana Republican, Kerry called on Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, who told the committee: "We cannot be confident in the agenda of the Libyan opposition."
Today's hearing follows a hearing last week with Under Secretary of State James Steinberg, who painted an upbeat picture of the intervention.
But today, Haass portrayed the intervention as ill-advised. He told the committee that the only sure way to replace the regime of Moammar Khadafy is to introduce ground troops and do nation-building, but that US interests in Libya do not warrant such an investment.
Haass said in his testimony that his views were his own, and not those of the Council on Foreign Relations.FULL ENTRY
WASHINGTON – He’s the (soon-to-be-former) ambassador to China and former Republican governor of Utah. And next month – in a move that will generate waves of political interest – he will be stepping more fully into his role as potential presidential candidate with his first public appearance in New Hampshire.
Southern New Hampshire University President Paul LeBlanc confirmed in a telephone interview this evening that Jon Huntsman Jr. has accepted an invitation to be graduation speaker at the Manchester school on May 21.
"The politics of the state of New Hampshire right now are so rancorous and polemical, and a lot of people like the fact that Huntsman seems to defy that ideological rigidity," LeBlanc said.
With a moderate profile and a resume that includes an ambassadorship under the current presidential administration, Huntsman – if he chooses to run for president – would be competing with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for moderates, independents, and crossover Democrats in the New Hampshire Republican primary.
Huntsman also shares Romney’s Mormon faith, which could be a factor in another early and potentially crucial GOP primary state, Nevada.
LeBlanc said the Huntsman appearance does not reflect any endorsement by him or the university. But if recent history is a guide, a graduation speech at Southern New Hampshire University could be the equivalent of political gold. In 2007, the university’s commencement speaker was Barack Obama, the senator from Illinois.
Expected Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney is giving $45,000 to GOP election committees in the aftermath of President Obama announcing his re-election campaign.
Romney's Free and Strong America PAC is giving $15,000 apiece to the Republican National Committee, National Republican Senatorial Committee, and the National Republican Congressional Committee.
The latter two are charged with electing Republicans to the US Senate and US House, respectively. The RNC, meanwhile, is ultimately charged with helping elect a Republican president.
The former Massachusetts governor said in a statement this afternoon: “President Obama and his big spending allies in Congress have confused priorities for our nation. Instead of focusing on putting unemployed Americans back to work, they have raised taxes, expanded the size and scope of government, and prolonged the recession. I believe that by electing Republicans, we will make America strong and prosperous again.”
Senator Scott Brown plans to report over $8.3 million cash on hand for his 2012 re-election campaign when he files a federal finance report on April 15, an aide said today.
The tally includes $1.7 million raised during the first quarter of the year.
By some estimates, Brown may spend up to $25 million on his campaign, in which he is seeking his first full term after replacing the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy in February 2010.
"Finally, Senator Brown, like other senators from Massachusetts and elsewhere, is registering a political action committee, 'ScottPAC,' which will allow him to respond to requests for financial support from other candidates," said spokeswoman Gail Gitcho.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, an expected candidate for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, has the "Free and Strong America PAC,'' while former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, another potential candidate next year, has the similarly named "SarahPAC."
Such so-called leadership committees allow politicians to travel the country and build their national political base, while also developing chits by sprinkling donations on like-minded candidates.
Earlier today, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll announced she would not seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Brown, citing her current job and young family.
But all the potential challengers have cited the money they have to raise as a potentially decisive factor in their ultimate decision to run.
Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff
Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll released a statement this morning saying she will not seek the Democrats' 2012 US Senate nomination in Massachusetts.
She had explored a run against the Republican incumbent, Senator Scott Brown, but also been upfront about her concerns over running while leading a city and raising three young children.
Driscoll had been the most prominent woman to publicly express interest in a campaign.
"Plain and simple, I do think the seat is winnable, but there is a time and place for everything," she said in her statement.
Tim Pawlenty announced he was forming a presidential exploratory committee via Facebook.
President Obama announced he was seeking reelection to the highest office in the country via a YouTube video.
Mitt Romney sent out his retort via Twitter.
Collectively, those developments have highlighted the prominent role social media will play in the 2012 presidential campaign.
Former US Representative William Delahunt has joined the Boston office of a Pittsburgh-based law firm as special counsel.
Eckert Seamans Cherin and Mellott LLC announced Monday the Quincy Democrat started Friday and will "provide strategic counsel to firm clients on complex regulatory issues such as healthcare, financial services, and energy and environmental matters."
"After serving in the House for 14 years, Bill Delahunt brings to Eckert Seamans incomparable insight and connections at the busy intersection of business and politics, as well as insight, experience, and seasoned judgment to our clients and their business affairs," Timothy P. Ryan, the firm's chief executive officer, said in a statement.
Last month, the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian tribe announced Delahunt will represent the group and its interests including its ongoing efforts to host casino gambling at the state and federal level.
Delahunt stepped down in January as 10th District congressman. Previously, he served as Norfolk district attorney.
Expected Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney today gave a Bronx cheer for the Obama administration's decision to hold trials for the top 9/11 suspect and four alleged co-conspirators at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, instead of as planned in New York City.
“An inexperienced and naïve president has finally reversed himself on Guantanamo and terrorist trials; let’s hope he sees the light on his other flawed policies," the former Massachusetts governor said in a statement.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the others will appear before a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay rather than before a civilian court on Manhattan.
Another Massachusetts Republican, Senator Scott Brown, lauded the reversal, too.
Senator Scott Brown today issued a statement in reaction to the Obama administration's decision to forgo a civilian trial in New York City for alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other suspects.
Instead, they will appear before a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Brown, a military lawyer in the Massachusetts National Guard, had opposed the New York plan and advocated for a Guantanamo proceeding.
Governor Deval Patrick is making history again with one of his judicial selections, nominating Barbara A. Lenk, an associate justice of the state Appeals Court who is married to a same-sex partner, to a seat on the Supreme Judicial Court.
"She is a brilliant and thoughtful justice with a deep sense of justice," Patrick said in a statement.
If confirmed by the Governor’s Council, Lenk would be the first openly gay judge on the state’s highest court. She would also be the only justice who was married as a result of the court’s landmark 2003 ruling that made Massachusetts the first state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004.
The nomination of Lenk comes after the governor named Roderick Ireland to be the first African-American chief justice of the SJC, and Fernande R.V. Duffly to be the first Asian-American judge on the state’s high court. Patrick has spoken of his desire to make the judiciary and other branches of government more reflective of the state's diversity.
A specialist in civil litigation and First amendment issues, Lenk holds a doctorate in political philosophy from Yale University and a law degree from Harvard Law School.
Tax collections in Massachusetts totaled $1.774 billion last month, an increase of $149 million, or 9.2 percent, from the same month a year ago, the Department of Revenue announced today.
Revenues also were $164 million above the revised March monthly benchmark set in January.
March is the largest corporate and business excise tax collection month of the year.
All told, year-to-date tax collections three quarters through the 2011 fiscal year totaled $14.354 billion.
That is an increase of $1.169 billion, or 8.9 percent, from the same period a year ago.
It's also $145 million above the revised FY11 year-to-date benchmark, according to the statement.
State officials agreed in January to a revised FY11 revenue estimate of $19.784 billion.
A link to the full release and attachments is here.
Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Governor Deval Patrick has called a State House news conference at 2 p.m. today to announce his fourth nominee to and fifth overall selection for the Supreme Judicial Court.
So far, the Democrat has used largely his appointment power to set precedent and the state's highest court has been his most prominent venue.
After the more traditional picks of Margot Botsford and Ralph Gants to the court, a white female and white male, respectively, Patrick nominated Roderick Ireland as the court's first black chief justice and Fernande "Nan" Duffly to replace him as associate justice. In so doing, she became the court's first Asian-American member.
The expectation is that he may do so again with his fourth new member, perhaps by nominating the court's first openly gay member. The seven-member SJC gained national attention in 2003 when it legalized gay marriage in Massachusetts.
The Patrick administration kept the news on its latest pick tightly held.
Expected Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney used his Twitter account this morning to respond to the announcement of President Obama's re-election campaign.
"@barackobama I look forward to hearing details on your jobs plan, as are 14m unemployed Americans," @MittRomney said in his cheeky post.
Romney's retort followed Obama's decision to use YouTube to release a video announcing his re-election campaign.
Romney then popped out his Twitter response, before another likely GOP presidential candidate, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, released his own response via YouTube.
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty certainly isn't dithering.
No sooner had President Obama's re-election committee released its kickoff video this morning than did Pawlenty's committee release its retort.
In his own YouTube spot, Pawlenty pokes at Obama's new signature phrase by asking, "How can America 'Win the Future' when we're losing the present?"
After showing a series of dark scenes and downtrodden voices, Pawlenty himself says to camera, "In order for American to take a new direction, it's going to take a new president."
Pawlenty, a first-time national candidate, has already announced, via Facebook, the formation of a presidential exploratory committee.
Using another social medium for Obama's announcement and Pawlenty's reaction shows the rise of YouTube as an inexpensive and direct means of communicating with voters.
There's no 30-second commercial to finance, and no reporters serving as a middleman on the message.
The candidates also benefit from follow-up coverage and links to their spots that send the message virally.
As Republicans form presidential exploratory committees, or promise to do so, or hint that one is coming, the incumbent isn't dithering.
President Obama kicked off his re-election campaign this morning with a video featuring average citizens making the case for giving him a second term.
The president's team will follow-up by filing papers official paperwork with the Federal Election Committee and then a fundraising drive. The re-election campaign, as with his 2008 campaign, will be based in his hometown of Chicago.
Obama does not speak in the kickoff film, which opens with a scene featuring "Ed" from North Carolina.
It's no coincidence that someone with a Southern accent, and from a state so coveted by the Democrats they are holding their 2012 convention in Charlotte, is given such a prominent role.
His message also is an appeal to Obama true believers as well as some of his early supporters who may have lost their enthusiasm as the aftereffects of the Great Recession have lingered and, more recently, the president launched military action in Libya.
"I don't agree with Obama on everything, but I respect him and I trust him,'' says Ed.
Back when he was mayor of Boston, Raymond Flynn had a trick.
Knowing the city's newspapers and television and radio stations were thinly staffed and often eager for fresh material on the weekends, he'd fill the vacuum especially on Sundays with some pronouncement or highly visual act that garnered him and his causes an inordinate amount of coverage on the evening newscasts or Monday paper.
It's a practice still used today by Secretary of State William Galvin, and it's the polar opposite of the Patrick administration's practice of releasing bad news on Fridays especially in the afternoon in an effort to minimize attention to it.
Today, Flynn may be 71, but he hasn't lost the range on his jump shot.
LAS VEGAS – It was billed as a foreign policy address, but it didn’t take long before the most prominent issue that could haunt Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign came up.
The first question from the audience after his 24-minute address before the Republican Jewish Coalition here was not about Israel or unrest in the Middle East. It was about Romney’s health care plan in Massachusetts.
Romney largely defended the rationale of the Massachusetts plan, saying that it helped spur greater health care coverage so uninsured residents wouldn’t simply go to emergency rooms for care.
But he sought to distinguish the plan from President Obama’s national plan by casting it as an issue of states’ rights.FULL ENTRY
For at least one leader of the Tea Party movement, when it comes to Scott Brown, the party’s long over.
“Brown is a politician, and that is meant in the worst sense of the word,’’ Judson Phillips, leader of Tea Party Nation, writes on a blog today. “He knows self-preservation and self-promotion. He has aligned himself with the [Republicans in name only] crowd, which has no beliefs, other than getting reelected and appeasing whatever base he thinks will help him get reelected.”
The source of Phillips’ anger? Brown delivered a speech yesterday from the floor of the Senate in which he worried aloud about how steep budget cuts could hurt programs for elderly and poor Massachusetts residents. He also wrote in a letter to GOP leaders that the poor and elderly could bear the brunt of the $61 billion in cuts they’re seeking.
NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Likely presidential candidate Mitt Romney this afternoon toured a depressed neighborhood besieged by foreclosed homes as he continued trying to criticize President Obama’s handling of the economy.
Romney so far has staked his budding presidential bid on economic concerns, but new upticks in the unemployment rates could complicate his case.
“I’m afraid some people are becoming conditioned to unemployment rates above 8 percent,” Romney said today. “Unemployment should be around 4 percent or less. And the idea that we celebrate 8.8 percent, I’m glad for the progress, but my goodness, we’ve got a lot of people out of work.”
Governor Deval Patrick is holding a meeting with his Council of Economic Advisers after Monday's usual meeting of the State House leadership team.
According to a schedule released this afternoon, the governor is participating in Brockton’s 12th Annual Youth Summit at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Massasoit Community College.
At 12:45 p.m., Patrick is attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Salvation Army’s Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center on Dudley Street in Dorchester.
On Monday, the governor's public schedule calls for a 3 p.m. meeting in his office with Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo.
At 5 p.m., he meetings with the economic council.
Senator Scott Brown has a pair of public events in Massachusetts this weekend.
Tonight, he's joining Governor Deval Patrick and other local politicians for the annual “Banned in Boston” benefit for Urban Improv. It describes itself as "an interactive program for young people that uses improvisational theater workshops to teach violence prevention, conflict resolution, and decision-making."
The show starts at 7:45 p.m. at the House of Blues on Lansdowne Street.
Tomorrow, the Republican is the keynote speaker at the annual Pioneer Valley USO fundraiser dinner.
It takes place at 8:15 p.m. at Delaney House in Holyoke.
Between representing Massachusetts in Congress, serving as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and acting as a semi-official diplomatic envoy of the Obama administration, Senator John Kerry has an additional duty.
In his new capacity as senior US senator from the state, he helps shape the vetting and recommendation process for any new federal judges nominated by the president to serve in Massachusetts.
It is a role held for decades by his former colleague, the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and it helped him shape not only the local federal bench, but also who served as US attorney and US marshal for Massachusetts.
In a statement yesterday, Kerry announced that the selection committee that will formally recommend candidates for the two upcoming judicial vacancies at the US District Courts in Springfield and Worcester is now accepting applications.
The committee leader is traditionally appointed by the senior senator, and last month Kerry announced he had selected Boston attorney Joan Lukey to serve as chairwoman. He pledged the panel "will reflect the broader geography of Massachusetts."
Kerry added in his statement: “Joan is already at work beginning a thorough search that will identify the best and brightest legal minds in Massachusetts which will be the basis for a recommendation to President Obama."
He urged citizens across the state to provide input "to make this non-partisan process succeed."
Interested candidates should contact Lukey at Joan.Lukey@ropesgray.com.
All applications must be completed by May 16.
WASHINGTON Can the $30 billion Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy has squirreled away in foreign bank accounts be used to reimburse the very nations making war on him right now?
That was a question that came up repeatedly today at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as members from both parties seized on the idea of using Khadafy's nest egg to finance the no-fly zone over his country imposed by the United States and an international coalition.
Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, started it all by asking Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg about the costs of the military operation in Libya.
Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today presided over a congressional hearing focused on future steps in Libya.
The North African nation has been under assault by an international coalition after its leader, Moammar Khadafy, began using military force against protestors opposed to his authoritarian regime.
Kerry called for institution a no-fly zone, which President Obama initiated.
WASHINGTON — US Senator John Kerry misspoke yesterday in saying that the Internet giant Google was on-board with the senator’s efforts to craft an Internet privacy bill, his office said this morning.
The Massachusetts Democrat has discussed the bill with Google officials but those talks are still ongoing, according to Kerry’s office.
Kerry’s Internet privacy bill has been in the works for months. The official language has not been released, but the goal of the bill is to give consumers more say in how their on-line browsing habits are recorded and used by advertising companies.
Companies on-board with the legislation include eBay, Intel, Microsoft, and HP, Kerry’s office said this morning. Talks with Facebook are also ongoing.
A Google spokesperson declined to comment today.
Mark Arsenault can be reached at email@example.com.
WASHINGTON – Republicans in early-voting states today levied harsh criticisms of their counterparts in Florida for so far refusing to move their primary date, part of an ongoing squabble that could have far-reaching implications for the presidential nominating calendar.
Republican Party leaders in both Iowa and South Carolina today said that national Republicans should consider moving the national convention from Tampa, Fla., unless Florida moves its current primary date.
It is all part of an ongoing disagreement over the nominating calendar, which could prove crucial for which candidate wins. National GOP leaders had been seeking an orderly and extended primary season, in part by punishing states that scheduled their elections before March 1, 2012. They carved out an exemption for four states: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.
"Or, as I like to call it, the 'People's Library,'" the Republican quipped at the South Boston St. Patrick's Day political roast.
The joke referred to the mantra of Brown's campaign to win the 2010 special election held after the death of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, brother to the slain president for whom the library is named.
Brown argued he wasn't filling Kennedy's seat, but "the people's seat."
He will discuss his new memoir, "Against All Odds: My Life of Hardship, Fast Breaks, and Second Chances," with NECN correspondent Alison King.
This forum will be held from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Reservations are no longer available to the public.
The forum will also be webcast live at www.jfklibrary.org/webcast.
Expected Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney today accused President Obama of inattention to job creation.
The Democratic National Committee responded by criticizing Romney's job creation record while governor of Massachusetts, as well as job losses in the aftermath of corporate acquisitions while he ran Bain Capital
In an op-ed piece appearing in USA Today, Romney called for tax polices that reward savings, investment, entrepreneurial risk-taking, and exports; free, open, and fair access to foreign markets; elimination of what he termed "the federal bureaucratic and regulatory stranglehold on business"; and budget restraints and entitlement reform.FULL ENTRY
A Harvard University poll released this morning found President Obama's approval rating rising among the so-called "Millennials" or "Generation Y" that spans from 18 to 29 years old.
The president had an approval rating of 55 percent, up 6 percentage points from a similar survey last fall. Both were conducted by Harvard’s Institute of Politics, which is part of the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Among students at four-year college campuses, Obama's approval rating rose even more, from 51 percent last fall to 69 percent now.
Pete Souza/The White House
Anybody thinking about a trip to Washington should consider the weekend of April 9-10, when the White House will open its grounds for its annual spring garden tour.
During our family's more than five years living in the DC area, this was a highlight.
Guests get screened at the East Gate, go through part of the East Wing, and then head outside to see the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, the South Lawn, and the Rose Garden. The Obama administration also offers a new stop: the Kitchen Garden.
In a final warning to Congress, the outgoing watchdog for the Troubled Asset Relief Program said today the financial reform legislation that Barney Frank helped shepherd to passage has not ended the threat that banks could require future bailouts.
Neil M. Barofsky, the TARP’s special inspector general, spoke about the Dodd-Frank bill to a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on his last day in the position. He cautioned lawmakers that the nation’s largest banks are “bigger and more concentrated and even more dangerous to the system” than before the 2008 crisis.
“The big ticket question that we’re talking about today, does it solve ‘too big to fail?’” Barofsky said of Dodd-Frank. “The answer is certainly not yet, and by all indications… I’m not entirely optimistic that it will.”
Vice President Joseph Biden is visiting the University of New Hampshire on Monday to call attention to the high rates of sexual assault and violence committed against young women in schools and on college campuses across the country, the White House announced today.
Joined by US Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Biden will will introduce new guidance to help schools, colleges, and universities understand their civil rights obligations to better prevent and respond to sexual assault, a statement said.
Biden was the author of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and worked as a US senator to change the way domestic violence is handled.
Nonetheless, the statement said, young women aged 16-24 experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault, while one-in-five will be a victim of sexual assault during college.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
President Obama has once again borrowed from Governor Deval Patrick, this time when it comes to nudging along prospective US Senate candidates.
Patrick created a stir in February when he bluntly told a National Journal reporter that City Year cofounder Alan Khazei, Somerville activist Bob Massie, and Newton Mayor Setti Warren were "in, for sure" for next year's US Senate race against Republican Scott Brown.
That left Khazei and Warren scrambling to clarify that they had not made any final decision. Massie had already declared his candidacy.
John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
All four of Governor Deval Patrick’s appointees to the embattled state Parole Board were approved by the Governor’s Council today, but not before the governor had to engineer tie-breaking votes for two of his nominees.
In a rare move, Patrick took the gavel from Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray, who chairs the Governor's Council, after the eight-member panel deadlocked, 4 to 4, on the nominations of John M. Bocon and Lucy M. Soto-Abbe.
That allowed Murray to cast two tie-breaking votes, making it 5-4 to confirm Bocon, a former chief officer in the federal probation office in Boston, and Soto-Abbe, a 17-year victim advocate in the Hampden district attorney's office.
David L. Ryan/Globe Staff
Likely Republican presidential contender Tim Pawlenty is headlining an upcoming Tea Party anti-tax rally on Boston Common.
The third annual event, sponsored by the Greater Boston Tea Party, will occur from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on April 15 the tax-filing deadline.
The speech will bring Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, to the home state of a potential rival for the 2012 GOP nomination, Mitt Romney.
It also puts him in a Tea Party spotlight enjoyed last year by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who was the event's 2010 keynote speaker.
"Governor Pawlenty's leadership in Minnesota has put his state on a course towards economic success," said a statement issued by Christin Varley, the group's president. "His is a message voters need to hear."
Also slated to appear is former state Representative Karyn Polito, a Shrewsbury Republican who waged an unsuccessful campaign for state treasurer last fall.
U.S. Representative Barney Frank revived a signature piece of legislation today that bars workplace discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgender people, but acknowledged that the bill has little chance of passing this session.
The Newton Democrat has introduced the Employment Non-Discrimination Act every session for decades. Today’s announcement was subdued, given the bill’s near certainty of failure.
“I will acknowledge at the outset that the likelihood of the Republican Congress adopting it in the House is small, but it is still very important to have it introduced,” he said.
The bill seemed to see its best chance for passage last session when Democrats controlled both chambers, but Democratic leaders made repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy a priority, along with a hate crimes bill that included penalties for violence against people who identify with the opposite sex. But last November’s election doomed the workplace bill to at least two more years of limbo.
In recent years, Frank has insisted that the workplace bill retain language protecting transgender workers along with gay and lesbian workers, a provision that caused some more conservative lawmakers to drop their support.
"We have reduced the resistance on the trangender issue, but that's still in play," he said.
Politico has an interesting story this morning looking at the recent wave of political book authors, with a special focus on US Senator Scott Brown.
The story reports that Brown’s book, "Against All Odds," had sold 15,534 copies as of last week, according to Nielsen BookScan. It tracks bookstore sales but not bulk purchases that can be made by politicians and their campaign committees, as Brown and fellow Republican Mitt Romney have done.
The story notes that President Obama seemed to start the wave, selling the rights to "Audacity of Hope" just 46 days after being elected to the Senate.
One of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy's top aides is thinking about challenging Republican Scott Brown for re-election.
Gerry Kavanaugh worked for Kennedy from 1993 to 2001, the bulk of the time as his chief of staff. He has since worked for the Democratic National Committee, Senator John Edwards and his presidential campaign, and, most recently, as the owner of two software companies and the co-founder of a nonprofit.
In an interview with the Globe for a story today, Kavanaugh cited the high cost of a campaign as one of the key factors for any of the possible Democratic challengers.
He'd also have to work on name recognition, with a campaign being his first run for elective office.
Kavanaugh would have something of a built-in field operation: The Dartmouth native and New Bedford resident has five of six siblings still living in Massachusetts.
Read the full story here.
Possible presidential candidate Newt Gingrich will be in Salem tomorrow, addressing a Salem State University audience as part of an annual speaking series.
The Georgia Republican's speech is titled, “Jobs, Economic Growth, and Prosperity: Getting America Moving in the Right Direction.”
Gingrich has been traveling to Iowa, New Hampshire, and other early presidential voting states. He's also announced he's considering forming a presidential exploratory committee, another indication of his potential interest in a campaign.
Massachusetts residents who want to listen to the former House speaker can attend the 8 p.m. event at the O’Keefe Sports Complex on Canal Street for $20, or $10 if they are students at the university.
Noah Bierman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nbierman.
Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff
In 2008, when the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority increased rates at its Boston Common Parking Garage, it noted they remained some of the lowest in town.
Three years later, the authority has decided to increase prices again with the same observation.
But what do the rates at a variety of surrounding, privately held parking garages have to do with the rates at the Common garage, a publicly owned facility? Taxpayers built it, first for the city of Boston, and then floated state bonds to reconstruct it.
WASHINGTON Longtime bachelor Patrick Kennedy, the former Rhode Island
congressman, is engaged to marry Amy Petitgout, a New Jersey public school
teacher he has been dating for some two years, Kennedy confirmed today.
Kennedy, 43, the youngest child of the late Massachusetts Senator Edward M.
Kennedy, did not run for re-election last fall after representing Rhode
Island in the US House for 16 years.
He asked Petitgout to marry him over the weekend in Rhode Island, according
to Sean Richardson, a former aide who is one of Patrick Kennedy’s
"My father spoke about his 'True Compass,' guiding him through his journey of
life,” Kennedy said in a brief statement, referring to the title of his
father’s book. “I have found mine with Amy. She has helped me navigate the
uncharted waters of life beyond politics and given me the reason to look
forward to a personal life with family and friends.”
Petitgout, who has a 3-year-old daughter, Harper, from a previous marriage,
said in a statement that Kennedy “has become part of my family and loves my
daughter as his own.”
The couple originally met in New Jersey at a political event, said
Kennedy said in a text message that a Cape Cod wedding is planned. No date
has been revealed.
Mark Arsenault can be reached at email@example.com.
Third-graders in East Bridgewater and Whitman came home from school with a note last week. Typically, that’s not news. But this note included an invitation to a fundraiser for a freshman state representative, a violation of state ethics rules.
Representative Geoff Diehl, a Whitman Republican, said today he is sorry for sending the note on Thursday, and he now realizes it violated the state law that bars the use of public resources for private campaigns.
“Really, it’s a lesson learned,” he said. “I feel horrible for the ramifications.”
The note invited parents to enter their children in a lottery, with the winners participating in a reading of “The Ride of Paul Revere,” at Diehl’s fundraiser with former New England Patriots player Steve DeOssie, on Patriots’ Day, April 18.
“Kids 12 and under eat FREE,” the note reads. “Adults $25.”
The flier, which teachers handed out to students at the end of school, does not make clear that the proceeds go to Diehl’s campaign account.
Susan T. Cote, superintendent of schools in East Bridgewater, said she only realized it was a fundraising solicitation after a parent who had supported Allen McCarthy, the Democratic incumbent whom Diehl defeated last fall called the school to complain.
“Once I realized it would go to his campaign, I said, ‘Oh. I should have never sent that home,'” Cote said.
Diehl said he has also contacted the State Ethics Commission, which told him he would not be penalized if he does not continue to solicit funds through the schools. The fundraiser, he added, will go on as planned.
Michael Levenson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mlevenson.
Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney has re-hired a policy expert from his 2008 campaign for his expected second White House run.
Though the former Massachusetts governor has not formally announced another campaign, a string of recent hirings and comments has dropped all pretense that he is undecided about running again.
His Free and Strong America PAC announced today that Lanhee Chen will join the PAC as policy director.
In 2008, Chen served as Romney's chief domestic policy adviser during his first campaign for president. He was also a health policy adviser to the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign.
Chen went on to serve the Bush administration as a senior policy and political aide at the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Most recently, Chen was the deputy campaign manager and policy director for Steve Poizner, the California insurance commissioner who made a failed bid for governor.
Chen earned a doctorate and masters in political science, a law degree cum laude, and an undergraduate degree in Government, magna cum laude, all from Harvard University.
Romney himself has business and law degrees from the school.
In recent weeks, the former governor has hired a new communications adviser and filled other top jobs at the PAC, which previously had been financing his national travels and providing a vehicle for him to make donations to like-minded political candidates.
Most recently, Romney sent $25,000 to the New Jersey Republican Party to help finance its activities.
Romney also penned a blog item last week talking about how he would change the Obama administration's health insurance program. It began, "If I were president..."
If there's one thing reporters covering the Patrick administration have come to expect, it's the Friday-afternoon news dump.
As the State House echoes with emptiness, as the public turns its attention from a week of work to a weekend of play, the administration has made a practice of stepping into the vacuum and filling it with unsavory news that can lose some of its pungency before Monday rolls around.
In a one-month span last fall, the topics ran the gamut, from tax collections that came in below expectations to the resignations of two Cabinet members, as well as the release of a well-past-deadline report analyzing the generous compensation at public-private agencies in the state.
Items that piled up amid a week focused on long-term planning for the boston.com Politics page...
For anyone who doubts if the former Massachusetts governor is going to take a second shot at the White House, Romney himself pretty much eliminated all question this week with a National Review blog post that began, "If I were president..."
It didn't say, "If I follow Ann's advice and decide to run for president...," an ode to Romney's past suggestion his wife was trying to coax him into a campaign.
Then, as Romney moved from Washington to New York for a meeting with big-money supporters, The Wall Street Journal popped up with what appeared to be a campaign-sanctioned story about Romney's effort to raise $50 million to overwhelm his potential opponents.
Follow-up reports on yesterday's meeting at the Harvard Club in Manhattan revealed that Romney may announce a presidential exploratory committee in early April, building momentum for a 15-city fundraising sweep that ends with a major event in Las Vegas on May 16.
Romney observers may recall he jumpstarted his 2008 campaign with a January 2007 telethon at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center that raised $6.5 million then a considerable sum for such a relatively unknown national candidate.
A formal campaign kickoff would come later, just as in 2007, when Romney followed up the big fundraiser with an announcement speech at the Henry Ford Museum outside Detroit.
Word also leaked this week that Team Romney had signed two operatives for any New Hampshire campaign. Jim Merrill, who served as state director in 2008, will be senior adviser in 2012. And Jason McBride, who ran Romney's winning Michigan campaign last time around, will take over as New Hampshire campaign manager.
As another Romney senior adviser, Tom Rath, recently told the Globe's Matt Viser: “It’s like a duck; there’s a lot more activity going on under the water than on top of the water."
The release of Massachusetts town-by-town US Census data this week lays the factual foundation for both legislative and congressional redistricting efforts.
That said, there is always a political overlay anytime those maps are redrawn (see: Gerry, Elbridge).
If history is any guide, the math will now be contorted to address political considerations.
Overall, the biggest mathematical fact is that the state is losing one congressional seat because of its overall population decline. It will drop from 10 to nine districts.
The other fact is that the borders of Massachusetts remain unchanged, meaning those nine districts will soon have to be stretched to cover what is currently 10 districts' worth of population.
Each will soon expand to include over 700,000 people.
From the political perspective, those redrawing the congressional lines will look for signs of candidate weakness or some figment of rationale as they force two of the current House members to square off for just one seat.
The district that had the slowest growth, and is represented by the oldest member, is the far-western District 1, where Representative John Olver serves. His district could be merged with neighboring District 2, which had more than double the growth and is represented by Richard E. Neal, the former mayor of Springfield.
But Olver sits on the House Appropriations Committee, while Neal is near the top on the House Ways and Means Committee. Forcing them to run off would inevitably hurt the state's political clout in one form or another.
The other two districts with the smallest growth Districts 6 and 10 are represented by John Tierney and William Keating, respectively.
One one level, it's a true pick-'em.
Tierney's wife just completed a jail sentence after pleading guilty to aiding and abetting the filing of false tax returns for managing a banking account that collected more than $7 million in illegal gambling profits. The question lingers about how the congressman did not know about that. Keating, meanwhile, is a freshman lawmaker, with the least seniority in the delegation.
Yet Tierney represents a distinct geographical area, the North Shore, as does Keating, Cape Cod and the South Shore.
One school of thought has Tierney forced into a showdown with Representative Niki Tsongas, whose District 5 spans the neighboring Merrimack Valley and has repeatedly shown Republican tendencies. Tsongas, though, is the lone female in the delegation.
A competing school of thought has Keating forced into a runoff against Representative Barney Frank, a popular and veteran member whose District 4 stretches from Newton to Fall River. That would take some map-maneuvering, but Frank once noted that including Fall River in his current district recalls the Russians' quest for a warm-water port on the Black Sea.
It's currently hard to attach any political rationale to ousting any of the other congressmen, who have a blend of seniority, population centers, and political stature to retain a seat.
Last fall's Republican gubernatorial contender has made it clear this month he's moved on from his campaign, announcing his new job with a venture capital firm and his seat on the board of a local credit union.
Yet each could also signal he hasn't left politics behind.
Both positions will put him in proximity to small- and mid-sized businesses and job creation, a far cry from the corporate health insurance post that Governor Deval Patrick used to portray him as lacking the common touch during the 2010 campaign.
Give Baker a couple years to rebound from the more than $2 million in salary he gave up while running for governor and he'd be positioned to consider another run for the Corner Office or the US Senate.
Another sign Baker hasn't left Patrick or politics behind?
He just sent his supporters an email seeking contributions for The Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund and a tribute to Tom Kelley.
Kelley served as secretary of Veterans Affairs under both Republican and Democratic governors before Patrick, having just won re-election in November, told the Medal of Honor winner his services were no longer needed. Kelley was replaced by Coleman Nee, a Gulf War veteran the governor argued may be better attuned to the needs of more recent veterans.
"Many of us were disappointed that Tom left state service without any kind of gathering to celebrate his 40 years of service, so we decided to hold a party in his honor on his birthday, Friday, May 13th," Baker wrote in his none-too-subtle tweak to his former rival.
Net proceeds, he explained, would go to the Legacy Fund, which raises money to pay for college scholarships for the children of Massachusetts servicemen and women who have lost their lives fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq."
"Tom is a great American and a good man," Baker told his past and possibly future supporters.
The governor coldly dismissed Bernard Cohen as state transportation secretary, then backtracked on 2006 campaign criticism of the "Big Dig culture" by hiring Jim Aloisi as his replacement.
He finally seemed to hit the mark by hiring Mullan to oversee the state's road, rail, port, and aviation systems.
Mullan is part of the team that has been charged with implementing a massive transportation consolidation law, which eliminated the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority as a free-standing entity and aimed to eliminate duplication by folding a lot of transportation back-office functions into the singular MassDOT.
From aging bridges to pothole-filled roads, from commuter-rail trains that don't come on time or T subway trains that dash through a flaming railbed like a circus tiger jumping through a burning hoop, the exposure to criticism for any transportation chief is immense.
For the most part, Mullan has handled it with aplomb. His admitted and biggest mistake? This month's botched explanation about how he and his department responded after a 110-pound light fixture fell off the ceiling of a Big Dig tunnel ceiling.
First, Mullan said he had kept Patrick in the dark because he wanted to inspect the other 23,000 fixtures in the Big Dig tunnel before telling the governor about the scope of the problem and his proposed remedy.
The governor was upset with that decision, and some in the public asked what responsibility Mullan would have had if another light fell and landed on some unsuspecting driver.
Then, the Globe reported yesterday that Mullan's staff actually hadn't told him about the light falling until shortly before he told the governor. He said he wasn't lying the first time around, just speaking in the collective "we" as he outlined when his agency first learned of the problem, the steps it took to quantify the problem, and when he finally told the governor about it.
He pledged a full review of internal and external communications, with answers as early as today, but the whole episode sparked questions about whether Mullan should remain as transportation secretary.
Mullan may have blown the falling-light episode, but there's a lot to like about him as a public servant.
He's from here, having grown up in Worcester. He went to school here, at UMass-Amherst and Suffolk University Law School. He has worked here, having been a partner at the Boston law firm Foley Hoag LLP.
Perhaps most importantly, he has served the state, first in the Department of Public Works, then, after leaving his law firm, in a variety of transportation roles. On top of that, he still serves his hometown of Milton in one of local government's most thankless roles, as a member of the Board of Appeals.
When the dust settled, the story about how he learned about the falling light also was instructive: Mullan, driving through the Big Dig, wondered why engineers were up on a lift, inspecting light fixtures.
His follow-up question led to an unsettling answer and admittedly lousy communication, but that runs counter to a professionalism, plainspokeness, and selflessness that's long been on display to those who closely follow state government in general and transportation matters in particular.
Likely Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney is trying to put the pieces in place so he can achieve a resounding victory in the so-called first primary: fundraising.
The former Massachusetts governor has been traveling the country he was at the Harvard Club in New York today to sign up key donors for his emerging campaign. Donors are pledging to raise at least $25,000 and up to $100,000 or more in order to help him make an emphatic statement to rivals and voters alike well before the first primaries and caucuses.
“I don’t know how to underline more that I believe what will shine through is his undeniable heartfelt enthusiastic belief about the greatness of this country,” said Lewis Eisenberg, a prominent hedge fund manager who was the finance chairman for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and is now committed to Romney.
Romney’s supporters expect him to announce an exploratory committee sometime next month, which would kick off the aggressive fundraising campaign. A Romney aide said his finance team is using a figure of at least $50 million to describe the minimum amount they believe it will take to win the GOP nomination.
Most candidates, including Romney, have been dancing around the idea of running for president, but within weeks several candidates are likely to take more formal steps. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty filed paperwork earlier this week to establish an exploratory committee, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia said he soon intends to do the same.
Others have been more coy about their plans, and have suggested they would wait until the summer to make their decisions. But if Romney forms an exploratory committee next month allowing him to start raising money for his campaign it could force other candidates to jump into the race in order to compete with his fundraising.
The warning bell will go off on April 1, the start of the second quarter.
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com.
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the committee's top Republican member, Richard Lugar of Indiana, have a long history of agreement on how to approach international issues. But Lugar is fuming about how President Obama went into Libya without congressional approval, an intervention that Kerry has championed.
Lugar, who is up for re-election, wrote a letter to his colleague demanding prompt hearings on Libya in their committee.
"I believe hearings not only would provide some important answers to senators and to the American people," he wrote, "they would induce the Obama administration to conduct in-depth contingency planning that does not seem to have occurred."
Kerry spokesman Frederick Jones said in response: "Senator Kerry understands the importance and complexity of our role in protecting the people of Libya and the committee will hold public hearings in the near future. He has been traveling in the region over recess to get information firsthand from our allies."
He noted Kerry and other senior congressional leaders from both parties have been briefed by the Obama administration during the past two weeks.
Jones also said the conflict in Libya was explored on March 17 when Undersecretary of State Bill Burns testified in public for more than two hours about the uprisings in Libya and elsewhere in North Africa and the Middle East.
Here is the full text of Lugar's letter:FULL ENTRY
Glen Johnson/Globe Staff
Newt Gingrich's consideration of forming a presidential exploratory committee and Tim Pawlenty's decision to actually take the plunge and form an exploratory committee himself signal that again, and soon, the nation's attention will return to that seminal rung of politics.
Of course, it's the presidential contest.
But as anyone who has observed politics from the bottom-up will tell you, local politics is where the real action is at.
Nowhere are the candidates as raw, or so directly in contact with voters, as they are in the cities and towns that dot the United States.
The late Paul Tsongas, who rose to US senator from Massachusetts and 1992 Democratic presidential contender, used to say, "Everything I needed to know in politics, I learned on the Lowell City Council."
While presidential candidates are surrounded with advisers, guided by polls, and protected from reporters by velvet ropes, eager aides, or Secret Service agents, most local pols have their phone number in the book and answer when you call, too.
That's the way it was until a year ago, when former Wrentham town assessor and selectman, former Massachusetts state representative, and former Massachusetts state senator Scott Brown got elected to the US Senate.
Now it's a little harder to get the Republican to pick up.
You can go from the Ipswich and Tewksbury board of selectmen to the Salem and Lowell city councils, from the Massachusetts State House to the US Capitol and a presidential campaign itself, and still find it hard to exceed the fun or feel of the local political scene.
And, for all the hype and hoopla that builds up the political ladder, not much changes beyond the number of zeroes in the budget, or the distance between the candidate and the voters.
Along the way, you'll likely encounter roughly four genres of politicians pervading the US system:
1. The good guy: Every political body (except, perhaps, some of the former leaders of Bell, Calif.) has one or two super-earnest members who try to do the right thing. Sober and direct, you can trust what they say, which explains why they are repeatedly re-elected.
2. The bomb-thrower: Every political body (including, it seems, some of the former members of the Detroit City Council) has one or two members who delight in attracting attention to themselves with brash, unvarnished speech. The meeting room is the stage, local cable the medium. They are true characters and stand for something anything which explains why they are repeatedly re-elected.
3. The media suck-up: Every political body has one or two members who feel that the best way to achieve their goals is to court the reporters who cover them. They're often willing to hand-off reports, suggest beers after a long meeting, or provide the inside dope on deadline not that there's anything wrong with most of those. They almost always have higher aspirations, which can be plainly apparent to voters, explaining why they are sometimes defeated.
4. The back-bencher: Every political body has one or two members who have no higher aspiration than their current office. They don't make waves or try to draw attention to themselves. It's not beyond them to go to Sunday Mass, shake hands on the way out, and then go back in so they can attend Mass again and shake more hands on the way out. They are often re-elected, until some upstart calls them out or they make an age-related gaffe, when they get tossed.
In one community north of Boston, Don Stewart is the prototypical local pol. He's seeking election next Tuesday as a town selectman.
He was born in town, literally, and now, at age 70, lives five doors down on the same street. He served as a selectman for 15 years before losing re-election in 2006.
On a main drag heading into town from a major highway, a supporter planted a big sign touting what passes for a platform in much of Americana: "Don Stewart cares about townies, seniors, veterans, self-employed & the disabled."
On the phone yesterday, Stewart laughed about the sign, particularly the use of the term "townie."
"There's not enough room to put down 'lifelong resident,' but it rubs some people the wrong way," said Stewart. "I asked him to take it down. If it offends one person, that's too much for me."
Stewart grew up in town and graduated from high school in 1958. While he was 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds at the time, he never played sports because he worked 40 hours a week at 50 cents an hour to help support his family. (Stewart made up for it by playing softball until he was 62.)
He segued to a mill job, before developing a house-painting business. His contact with the locals led to an additional 18-person janitorial service, which gave Stewart and his wife of 49 years enough money to send their son and daughter to college.
Along the way, though, the Stewarts opened up their home. To kids in the "A Better Chance" educational program. To battered women. And to 68 foster children over 30 years, including one who recently moved back after trouble in his own marriage.
"The one thing that's missing from that sign is 'kids,' because they've been a big part of my life," Stewart said.
Today, he is retired, at least from work. His 20-year stint as town Santa is behind him, as is his service on other local panels. He still goes to selectmen meetings just to watch, his institutional memory so valuable the current board often calls into the audience for Stewart to provide some missing historical context.
He ran for school committee in 2007 and lost a close race. He ran for selectman in 2009 and lost again, though narrowly.
Last year, he had prostate cancer, so he took a year off the campaign trail. This year, he's back to give it one more shot. Local politics, and public service, are part of his composition.
“I sit at home now and I got to have something to do. There’s no way I'm just sitting here, watching TV," he said.
Then, before hanging up, he didn't bother to say goodbye.
Embodying Tip O'Neill's maxim that "all politics is local," he encouraged participation, even if not for him.
“Make sure you get out to vote Tuesday," said Stewart.
Delays to the Pentagon's new state-of-the-art fighter jet, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, may have given a boost to General Electric Aviation, which has been on the losing end of a battle over an engine for the new jet.
The U.S. Navy announced this week that it would buy 68 engines from GE for new F-18 Hornets. The Pentagon announced the $246 million addition to the GE engine contract on Tuesday; almost half of the work will be done at GE's Lynn plant.
The engine buy is part of the Pentagon's expected yearly aircraft procurement, as the armed services must regularly replace aging aircraft. But GE Aviation spokesman Rick Kennedy said the Navy procurement is larger than usual because of the delays to the Joint Strike Fighter, which is also known as the Lightning II.
Though Kennedy didn't know how many of the engines were ordered due to delays in the F-35 program, he said delays to the Joint Strike Fighter program "have benefited the Lynn plant, no question." A Navy spokeswoman could not immediately confirm that the F-35 delays resulted in a bigger order of the F-18 engines.
"To continue to fill up the fleets, the Navy have ordered additional Hornets because they weren't getting the Joint Strike Fighter," Kennedy said.
Some 45 percent of the F-18 engine work is done at GE Aviation's Lynn plant, with the rest done in Kentucky, Ohio, New Hampshire, Vermont and other states. The contract modification doesn't mean new jobs, because the contracts are already in place.
“I’m glad to see the United States Navy continue to depend on the skilled, dedicated work force in Lynn," Senator John Kerry said in a statement.
The engine contract came on top of another GE Aviation contract the Pentagon announced the same day worth up to $453 million for repairs to existing aircraft engines being used across the armed services, including those used by the Apache and Blackhawk helicopters.
The new F-18 engines represent a silver lining of sorts to GE travails over the F-35. Since the 1990s, the Pentagon has paid GE to develop an alternate engine for F-35, but both the Bush and Obama administrations soured on the alternate engine program, calling it a waste and urging Congress to defund it.
Budget-conscious GOP freshman -- some from districts with ties to GE's competitors -- bolstered the ranks of the engine's opponents, and House members bucked their leaders by stripping $450 million for the engine from this year's budget.
The Senate didn't include the engine in its version either, but senators voted down both versions, leaving the GE engine program in limbo. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has said he will continue to fund it in deference to Congress despite his opposition.
Jim Davis/Globe Staff
As Senator Scott Brown skewered leading Massachusetts Democrats with a joke-filled routine during a St. Patrick's Day political roast over the weekend, one of his top advisers delighted in a moment he helped script.
"Scott Brown at St. Patty's Day breakfast says he doesn't think John Kerry is an elitist ... and 'neither do his butlers,'" communications consultant Eric Fehrnstrom said via Twitter.
"Ha! Scott Brown says Southie parade only one where (House) speaker rides in a car for which previous speaker made the license plate," Fehrnstrom said in another of his series of tweets.
Yet as the crowd roared when Brown displayed a bipartisan flair, telling another joke that tweaked fellow Republican Mitt Romney for owning not one but three houses, Fehrnstrom's Twitter feed went silent.
No re-tweet of that dig at Fehrnstrom's original, and ongoing, boss. No basking in the glory enjoyed by his subsequent, and continued, boss.
The decision illustrates the challenge confronting Romney and Brown and some of the key men and women who have helped both reach their high stations in national politics.
Fehrnstrom and business partners Peter Flaherty and Beth Myers not only served Romney as governor of Massachusetts; they were top staffers for his unsuccessful campaign for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.
They then branched out on their own, formed the Massachusetts-based Shawmut Group, and directed Brown's upset win in the 2010 Massachusetts US Senate special election.
Now, the trio is assisting Romney as he plots a second presidential campaign and Brown as he seeks re-election to his first full Senate term.
The men's political fates could be decided the same day, Nov. 6, 2012, but the candidates and their advisers will face a challenge until then working in such close proximity to each other.
Romney was extraordinarily popular in Massachusetts when, in 2002, he returned from his successful leadership of the Olympic Winter Games and was elected governor. His star dimmed, though, as he began laying the groundwork for his presidential campaign with a move to the right, jokes before conservative audiences about his liberal homestate, and heavy out-of-state travel.
Such was his station that he was a virtual no-show for his running mate, Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, as she ran to succeed him in the 2006 gubernatorial race.
Healey was happy to have it that way.
Romney also dropped out of sight during Brown's 2010 campaign, only to take the stage on election night after voters had already cast their ballots.
Brown was happy to have it that way, too.
Today, both men are complimentary but not necessarily complementary toward each other.
Brown declared early and often that Romney has his endorsement in the race for the GOP's 2012 presidential nomination. Romney has reciprocated, highlighting Brown's success as proof a strong Republican message can penetrate even the bluest of Democratic states.
Yet there is potential for future tensions.
First of all, there is time and focus for their mutual advisers. Romney will face a hydra-headed challenge for the nomination, confronted simultaneously by rivals such as Tim Pawlenty and Haley Barbour and Newt Gingrich. Or Sarah Palin.
That will occur this fall and next spring, well before Brown's re-election campaign begins (he almost assuredly won't face a Republican challenger for the GOP's Senate nomination). So far, so good.
But if Romney wins the nomination, and Democrats succeed in their effort to recruit a challenger to Brown, both of their campaigns will reach their peaks the following fall.
Who gets the Shawmut Group's best effort? Best commercial ideas? Debate prep? Political roast jokes?
Secondly, as Romney veers rightward nationally to win the nomination, while Brown moves to the center to win re-election in Massachusetts, conflicting views are inevitable. Each is his own man, but it's only natural for two people with similar political pedigrees to face questions about the other's policy views.
After all, if Romney and Brown were to win their campaigns, Brown would have to vote on Romney administration programs.
Currently, both men express similar views about Libya: They say US air strikes were justified because Moammar Khadafy was slaughtering his own countrymen.
Recently, though, they differed on the New START Treaty: Romney vehemently opposed the pact President Obama signed with Russia, while Brown voted for its ratification.
Both will also have to stage an artful dance as they call for repealing Obama's universal health care program, which was modeled after a 2006 Massachusetts bill that then-state Senator Brown voted for and then-Governor Romney signed into law.
Advisers argue that despite their shared party, geographical roots, and team of advisers, Romney and Brown are individual candidates with their own views. On some points they agree; on others, they don't.
You can also argue that Brown will benefit if Romney is at the top of the Massachusetts ballot come the fall of 2012, or, perhaps more likely, that Romney will benefit from being on the same ballot as a senator consistently polling as the most popular politician in Massachusetts.
And should Romney run, Fehrnstrom, Myers, and Flaherty are not expected to be paid staff members again but consultants. Fehrnstrom, for example, doesn't plan to be on Romney's plane again as traveling press secretary; rather, he intends to work from the home office and focus on message development and television commercials.
In Massachusetts, a relatively shallow Republican talent pool also doesn't give Brown many other options with Shawmut's breadth of local experience or national contacts.
Finally, Fehrnstrom and the other advisers note that they are hardly the only political consultants with more than one client. Their roster includes other politicians and businesses they prefer not to name.
"Our consulting business is not unlike other firms that have more than one client," said Fehrnstrom, readying himself for another Democratic tweak. "In this economy, we’re just thankful to have any clients at all."
Former Governor Mitt Romney is marking the first anniversary of President Obama's universal health care law by vowing to dismantle it state-by-state.
"If I were president, on Day One I would issue an executive order paving the way for Obamacare waivers to all 50 states," the would-be Republican presidential candidate said Tuesday night in a blog post for the "National Review."
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who announced Monday he was forming a presidential exploratory committee, released his own statement this morning saying he would support the law's repeal. While governor last year, he joined a lawsuit seeking to do just that.
"The law infringes on individuals' and states' rights by forcing individuals to purchase a good or service," he said. "If courts do not do so first, as president, I would support the immediate repeal of 'Obamacare' and replace it with market-based health care reforms."
Romney's statement used his most aggressive language yet regarding a potential presidential campaign. He insists publicly he has yet to decide whether to seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, yet nearly all of his actions for the past two years have been geared that way.
A formal kickoff is expected later this spring.
Romney presided over Massachusetts when, in 2006, it enacted the nation's first universal health care law. Now over 98 percent of state residents have private, government, or government-subsidized private coverage.
Last year, Obama signed a federal law modeled on the same principles, including a mandate that all residents obtain whatever coverage they can afford, as well as penalties for not doing so.
Romney said in his blog post that his executive order would direct the secretary of Health and Human Services and all relevant federal officials "to return the maximum possible authority to the states to innovate and design health-care solutions that work best for them."
The former governor argues states should be free to enact what Democrats have countered is "Romneycare."
He said in his statement: "As I have stated time and again, a one-size-fits-all national plan that raises taxes is simply not the answer. Under our federalist system, the states are 'laboratories of democracy.'"
Romney said his ultimate goal is to repeal the Obama program "and replace it with free-market reforms that promote competition and lower health-care costs."
Acknowledging such a repeal would take time, "an executive order is the first step in returning power to the states," he said.
Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles Baker has made good on his pledge to take a credit union job in addition to his high-flying venture capital position.
Braintree-based Tremont Credit Union announced today that Baker has joined its board of directors.
He formerly spent a decade as president of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, after serving as human services director and budget chief in the Weld and Cellucci administrations.
“Charlie’s consummate blend of business skills, government experience, financial expertise, and regulatory knowledge will provide extraordinary organizational benefits," George Hardiman, chairman of Tremont’s board of directors, said in a statement.
Baker said: "I admire and appreciate the critical role the credit union industry plays in providing accessible and low cost financial services to the people of Massachusetts."
The statement noted Baker is joining Tremont as it strengthens its financial controls after state bank regulators issued critical findings of the bank’s operations last April.
Since then Tremont has changed its board, brought on new executives, and reorganized its loan, sales, and customer service staff.
Board members, including Baker, receive no compensation for their service.
Governor Deval Patrick branded Baker as an out-of-touch business leader during their recent campaign. The Democrat complained his salary had risen at Harvard Pilgrim as consumer premiums increased. Baker pointed to repeated top customer satisfaction ratings the insurer received, as well as his ability to pull it out of state receivership.
While announcing earlier this month he was joining a venture capital firm, Cambridge-based General Catalyst Partners, Baker said he would focus on growing small- to mid-sized companies especially in the health care arena.
At that time, he also said he was considering a credit union board role.
The Tremont Credit Union is open to workers who live or work in Suffolk, Norfolk, and Middlesex Counties, are Massachusetts residents of Latvian heritage, or are affiliated with several community or employer groups including the Boston Public Schools, Boston Children’s Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Amtrak, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, and the Iron Workers Union Local 7.
WASHINGTON — The abortion-rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America today praised US Senator Scott Brown for pledging to oppose a House Republican effort to eliminate federal grants and contracts that benefit the women’s health services provider Planned Parenthood.
“Today’s report that Senator Scott Brown has said he will oppose efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and other family-planning centers is a positive first step, and we look forward to seeing his name appear in the ‘no’ column when this vote comes to the Senate floor,” said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America and Andrea Miller, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, in a joint statement. “We also call on Senator Brown to stand up for the Commonwealth’s women and oppose other far-reaching and intrusive anti-choice policies as they move from the House to the Senate.”
Brown, a Massachusetts Republican, issued a statement this morning in support of family planning services, and said that an effort by House Republicans to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood goes too far. Brown voted for the House budget plan earlier this month, though he said at the time he did not support all of the proposed cuts. The plan failed to pass the Senate.
The Menino administration is disputing US Census figures released today by Secretary of State William F. Galvin that purported to show that Boston lost population during the past decade.
Galvin released the figures this morning at a widely attended State House news conference, where the figures were immediately broadcast by reporters from a number of media outlets.
Moments later, Menino's office reached out to reporters, saying Galvin was mistaken about the Census numbers and that Boston had actually gained population, growing to 617,594 from 589,141, a 4.8 percent increase.
"We are confident that our population continues to grow," said Dot Joyce, a Menino spokeswoman. "Boston is a growing, vibrant city." Joyce said city officials are reviewing the new figures.
The official Census figures are due to be released this afternoon.
The data will be used to determine the shape of legislative districts, as well as to remap the congressional districts in Massachusetts.
Earlier figures already showed that the state would lose one of its 10 congressional districts.
WASHINGTON — US Senator Scott Brown opposes a House Republican plan to cut all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, the womens' health service provider, and today urged budget negotiators to reach a compromise.
“I support family planning and health services for women,” Brown, a Bay State Republican, said in a statement. “Given our severe budget problems, I don't believe any area of the budget is completely immune from cuts. However, the proposal to eliminate all funding for family planning goes too far. As we continue with our budget negotiations, I hope we can find a compromise that is reasonable and appropriate.”
House Republicans have sought to eliminate all federal grants and contracts with Planned Parenthood, some $300 million, because the agency provides abortion services. By law, none of the federal money can be used to pay for abortions, but abortion-rights opponents have argued that any financial support for Planned Parenthood frees up other money that could be used for abortions.
The argument comes as part of an ongoing budget fight: Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have been unable to agree on a budget to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year; Congress has recently passed two short-term stopgaps to allow more time to reach a long-term deal.
Earlier this month, Brown voted in favor the House GOP proposal that would have made the cuts, though he said at the time that he “would have had different priorities” in cutting spending. The Senate defeated the House plan, and a Democratic alternative, in a set of votes orchestrated by Senate leaders to force both sides back into negotiations.
Globe colleague Noah Bierman represented the Boston-area media today as he served as pool reporter for Vice President Joseph Biden's appearance at what Governor Deval Patrick termed a "friend-raiser" in the Hancock tower.
My preview story is here.
In his pool report, which the White House relayed to other reporters, Bierman said Biden addressed about 110 major Democratic donors on the building's 58th floor.
He also said the vice president spoke for 21 minutes, during which he tried to rally core financial supporters; recited administration accomplishments; and talked about the need to work with Republicans while repelling some policy goals he said would damage
the nation’s economic recovery and enlarge the deficit.
A storified version of the report's highlights:
“Thank you on behalf of Barack and myself for all the hard work you did," Biden told his Boston audience. "I would not be standing here. He would not be representing the United States of America in South America right now, were it not for the work of you folks in this room and probably another 1,000 like you all across America.”
He added: “It’s not just that we couldn’t have won without you. We will not be able to win
again without you.”
Biden also spoke about new Republican majority in US House of Representatives.
“The cuts that the Republicans are talking about would not only cripple the economy, but they would also enlarge the deficit," he said.
Biden said of the more conservative members elected recently, “They mix up the Tea Party that took place in Boston Harbor and the Tea Party they represent.”
But Biden also called it a “myth” that the White House cannot work with Republicans,
pointing to the 17-day lame duck session as more productive “than any time in
the last two years.”
Biden was introduced by Governor Deval Patrick, who is planning to serve as a surrogate campaigner for Obama and Biden in the coming campaign.
“We stopped the red tide here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and we have
many of you to thank for that," Patrick said.
Offering what what could be his own stump speech, Patrick said of Republicans: “They
have set as their goal, not how to make a better country, but to stop this
Among those spotted in the crowd were advertising executive Jack Connors, Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, Senate President Therese Murray, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo.
The food included passed hors d'oeuvres of miniature beef “Wellington” and warm melted-brie tartlets.
Massachusetts Republicans are branding Newton Mayor Setti Warren as "not ready for primetime" after the potential US Senate candidate incorrectly labeled a potential colleague as dead.
During a weekend broadcast of WCVB-TV's "On the Record," Warren was asked to name the San Francisco mayor assassinated in 1978 along with city supervisor Harvey Milk.
"Dianne Feinstein," Warren said after a brief pause, providing the name of the future mayor.
Making the mistake all the worse is that Feinstein is a fellow Democrat who has served alongside Warren's former boss, John Kerry, in the US Senate since 1992.
Co-host Ed Harding laughed at the reply, prompting Warren to backtrack.
"Dianne Feinstein became mayor after, and then became US senator, after Harvey Milk was assassinated," Warren replied.
For the record, the mayor who was assassinated was George Moscone.
Even as it tweaked Warren in a press release, the Massachusetts Republican Party raised questions about its own readiness for the spotlight.
Both times the release incorrectly spelled Moscone's name as "Mascone."
WASHINGTON Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is taking the first formal step today toward a presidential run, putting him in front of the pack of potential candidates.
Pawlenty announced through a video posted on his Facebook page this afternoon that he is forming a presidential exploratory committee. The committee allows him to begin raising money for a presidential race, even while not technically being a formal candidate.
The video shows Pawlenty in St. Paul, Minn., dressed in a beige jacket that is strikingly familiar to the barn jacket Scott Brown wore to victory in Massachusetts (Brown’s was made by Golden Bear Sportswear; Pawlenty’s clearly has a Carhartt label).
The heavily produced video also shows Pawlenty shaking hands, posing for pictures, and skating on an ice rink.
“There is a brighter future for America,” he says at one point, with soaring music in the background. “We know what we need to do: grow jobs, limit govt spending, and tackle entitlements.”
“Today, I’m announcing the formation of an exploratory committee to run for president of the United States,” he says toward the end, as fighter planes blast through the sky and fireworks go off. “Join the team, and together we’ll restore America.”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich previously declared he intends to form an exploratory committee at some future date, likely in May.
Pawlenty has already traveled to New Hampshire and hired aides to work on a campaign, but the committee step is the next available to candidates to earn free media coverage in advance of a pomp-filled formal announcement.
The announcement also reflects the new-media tools available to candidates, in how they choose to make major political news. Rather than staging a press conference or addressing supporters in a ballroom, Pawlenty is choosing to weigh in on the most popular social networking site.
“Be sure to visit my Facebook page today at 3 p.m. ET for a special message exclusive to Facebook supporters,” Pawlenty posted this morning on his Facebook page.
He sent a similar message out on his Twitter feed.
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vice President Joseph Biden is visiting the Hancock tower in Boston this evening for a pair of events, including one that Governor Deval Patrick says is a "friend-raiser" ahead of the 2012 presidential election.
One of the two meetings is taking place in the personal offices of Jack Connors, the local advertising executive who has been spearheading the fundraising effort for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, according to a Connors assistant and a top local Democrat who saw the invitation.
"Massachusetts has been good to the Obama-Biden ticket, and was the last time around, and the administration has been good to Massachusetts, and the vice president is here to refresh those relationships and rally some of the organizers for the coming election," Patrick told reporters at the State House.
The trip is coming almost exactly two weeks after President Obama visited the city for a fundraiser on behalf of the committee charged with helping elect Democrats to the US House of Representatives.
The back-to-back visits underscore the party's emphasis on strengthening itself in the aftermath of the mid-term election, when the Democrats lost their House majority. Obama and Biden also are gearing up for what The Washington Post projected in December could be the first $1 billion presidential campaign.
Obama himself met last week with top donors in Washington, although he did not directly solicit contributions at that time.
Instead, the president told the group: "As 2012 unfolds, I expect that we’re going to have a lot of questions and there are going to be vigorous debates, but I don’t want us to lose sight of the huge opportunities we have to seize the moment and make sure that America is not just changed, but is changed for the better."
He added: "And my hope is that the same spirit that helped change this country in 2008, that that spirit is still in each and every one of you.”
Massachusetts was one of former President Bill Clinton's most reliable fund-raising states, but two area Democrats who helped him raise money Steve Grossman and Alan Solomont are now in different roles.
Grossman was elected state treasurer in November and just started his term in January; Solomont is serving as US ambassador to Spain and Andorra after an appointment from Obama himself.
"My understanding is it's a 'friend-raising' meeting getting ready for the 2012 elections," said Patrick.
Earlier in the day, Biden joined US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Delaware Governor Jack Markell, US Senator Chris Coons, and other officials from his home state of Delaware to tour the Howard High School of Technology in Wilmington.
According to a pool report, "they visited a classroom of students who were learning about physical science."
Biden told reporters he is hopeful that Howard High School's turnaround plan will help students, saying that "part of it is believing in them and setting the bar high," the report said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who previously served as the first female speaker of the US House of Representatives, will deliver the inaugural Alan D. Solomont Lecture at Tufts University on April 8.
The California Democrat will reflect on her career and the importance of public service during a 2 p.m. address in the school's Cohen Auditorium, according to a university statement.
This lecture is part of the 10th anniversary celebration of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service.
It is intended to serve as a catalyst for active citizenship at Tufts and is the only university-wide program of its kind. Serving undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students, the goal is to prepare young people to be lifelong active citizens.
Pelosi's speech will be followed by a question-and-answer session with Alan D. Solomont, for whom the lectureship is named.
A prominent Democratic fundraiser and activist from Massachusetts, the former nursing home executive now serves as US ambassador to Spain and Andorra. He also is a member of Tufts' Class of 1970.
Dina Rudick/Globe Staff
The South Boston St. Patrick's Day political roast has long had the reputation as the preeminent place to hear political wit, but lately it's also veered toward a cross between "American Idol" and a politicians' gag slide show.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo showed yesterday and last week in an expletive-filled appearance in Salem he's among those who still get the drill. And so did Senator Scott Brown.
In a joked-filled routine, the Republican skewered both Democrats and the GOP alike, as well as himself.
Read my full story here.
In the first of two moments that triggered laughs but actually were full of meaning, Brown mentioned the state's traveling governor, Deval Patrick, and said of the Democrat: "Honestly, really, I’m so glad that the governor is here, because if he wasn’t here, he'd actually be out trying to recruit another candidate to run against me.”
At another point, as the crowd laughed at some of his tart criticism, Brown alluded to his coming re-election campaign as he said with a laugh himself: "I figured I might as well start. I’m going to get the you-know-what kicked out of me soon, so hey, why not?”
The 12-member Massachusetts congressional delegation, all Democrats except for Republican Senator Scott Brown, offered an array of positions today in reaction to the launch of US air strikes on Libya over the weekend.
Here are the comments they or their spokesperson made to the Globe or, in Kerry's case, as well as on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Senator John Kerry, Democrat:
"Well, the goal of this mission ... is not to get rid of (Libyan leader Moammar) Khadafy, and that's not what the United Nations licensed. And I would not call it going to war. This is a very limited operation that is geared to save lives, and it was specifically targeted on a humanitarian basis. It is not geared to try to get rid of Khadafy. He has not been targeted. That is not what is happening here. So, in my judgment, we have to see where we go from here."
In an interview with the Globe, Kerry added: "I believe very, very deeply that America's strategic interests and our values require us to support people's aspirations. ...I think you have to have some faith in what the possibilities of diversity and pluralism can produce."
Senator Scott Brown, Republican:
"I support the administration's involvement at this point. Obviously, it gets to a point where you have to draw a line in the sand, and when innocent civilians are being killed, it's important for the world community to step forward, and we're doing it in a coalition manner, and I'm supportive of that."
Representative John Olver, Democrat, 1st District:
A spokeswoman said "he supports the steps the president, the UN, our European allies, and the Arab League are taking."
Representative Richard E. Neal, Democrat, 2nd District:
"I welcome the passage this week of UN Security Council Resolution 1973 implementing a no-fly zone over parts of Libya. I also support the establishment of an international coalition, working together with the Arab League, to prevent further atrocities from happening in flashpoints like Benghazi. It is clear that Colonel Khadafy and his regime were not going to stop the campaign of terror and violence against their own people. For the safety of innocent civilians, and to encourage the pro-democracy movements across the Middle East, I support the actions of the international coalition."
Representative James McGovern, Democrat, 3rd District:
"I just have this uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. . . None of us know who is really calling the shots in terms of the opposition. It's very dicey and very dangerous. I am hoping and praying for success. I am deeply worried."
Representative Barney Frank, Democrat, 4th District:
"If our role is limited to Tomahawk missiles from the ships, and the airplanes are French and British, I will support it. ...Our opposition is for America picking up the entire tab. The fact that you have such a multinational, multicultural support for this, I hope it is a new paradigm. "
Representative Niki Tsongas, Democrat, 5th District:
"I am concerned that our military action in Libya lacks a clear objective. It is critically important that our commitment there not extend beyond the scope of UN Resolution 1973 and under no circumstances should American ground troops be inserted into that country."
Representative John Tierney, Democrat, 6th District:
"These are the lingering questions: Why Libya? Why now? There are certainly other dictators acting badly toward the own citizens. And who is the opposition? If you're picking sides in a civil war you better know who you're siding with."
Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat, 7th District:
“The current government of Libya has lost all legitimacy. Left unchecked, Khadafy will commit unspeakable brutalities against his own people. ...The more nations involved in this multilateral effort, the more the people of Libya will know that the movement for democracy that is spreading throughout the Middle East has global support. We are watching a watershed moment not only in Libya but throughout the Middle East. History is on the side of these 21st century young, educated people who are calling for the end to this 20th century oil-fueled dictatorship. Seventy percent of Libya is young people, but they represent 100 percent of the future of the country. The message to Colonel Khadafy is clear: the entire world community is united in protecting the Libyan people. Libyans must be able to chart their own future, free from violence and intimidation.”
Representative Michael Capuano, Democrat, 8th District:
"So far, the only stated goal is to protect civilians, the civilian population, which is a laudable goal, but if that's the new measure of when military power's going to be put in play, well then I suspect we'll be going to the Congo and Sudan, Ivory Coast, Yemen, maybe Bahrain, very very soon, if that's the measure."
Representative Stephen Lynch, Democrat, 9th District:
"I was very troubled by the decision to use US forces and to do so without consulting with Congress. I don't believe that Libya presents a direct threat to the United States. Lacking those circumstances, I think it was incumbent upon the president to talk to Congress. We have got two wars going on right now. We are tremendously over-extended."
Representative William Keating, Democrat, 10th District:
"Since the humanitarian issues surrounding the non-engaged Libyan civilians have not been fully vetted to Congress, I'm forced to view this on a step-by-step basis. I feel strongly, however, that our involvement should not expand beyond that purpose."
Glen Johnson/Globe Staff
12:33 p.m. - Senator Jack Hart closed by recognizing family members, as well as friends who organized the breakfast.
He also asked that guests keep the family of the late Middlesex Sheriff James DiPaola, who committed suicide in November, in their prayers.
Then Irish tenor Ronan Tynan closed with, "God Bless America."
He said it took on special meaning for him not as he sang it at Yankee Stadium, as he famously did for years, but when he did so for U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan.
12:22 p.m. - Following a tradition from the Roman Catholic Mass, host Senator Jack Hart read a long list of those who are sick or recently died, asking that they be remembered.
The finale will be Irish tenor Ronan Tynan singing, "God Bless America."
12:16 p.m. - The step dancers, who include Senator Jack Hart's three daughters as well as his sister's triplets, are on stage as we near the even finale.
12:09 p.m. - The newly elected local state representative, Nick Collins, noted during his debut appearance at the roast that he was single and Senator Scott Brown's elder daughter, Ayla, was, too.
He asked Brown, who had already left for another St. Patrick's event, if Ayla was available for singing lessons.
12:05 p.m. - The first person to bring up Auditor Suzanne Bump's decision to claim a tax break on two residences simultaneously was Bump herself.
She said despite having a home in South Boston for the past eight years, her neighbors woke in October to read a story revealing they were her "principal" friends, not her "primary" ones.
That was the distinction Bump, an attorney, tried to make as she claimed the two breaks.
The rest of her routine suffered, as she held up posters too small for the audience to see, but Senator Jack Hart, the host, threw her a lifeline by crediting her effort.
"That's the first time out. I thought she was excellent," Hart said, urging applause from the crowd.
11:59 p.m. - The show is running through the scheduled ending time, but Treasurer Steve Grossman is now at the microphone.
His wife, Barbara, is joining him for a song. It's "There's Nothing Like a Dem," to the tune of, "There's Nothing Like a Dame,'' from the musical, "South Pacific."
Somewhere this show has turned into a local version of "American Idol."
Auditor Suzanne Bump also has her turn, and Irish step-dancers are making their way to the side stage.
11:48 a.m. - Irish tenor Ronan Tynan called Boston "truly a piece of Ireland," marking the end of the first year he's been in the city since decamping New York.
For his second song, he sung, "Grace," in honor of Grace Gifford, an Irish artist and cartoonist active in the movement to create an independent Irish republic.
11:42 a.m. - Irish tenor Ronan Tynan is absolutely rocking the house from the side stage with a rendition of, "The Fields of Athenry."
11:34 a.m. - Much to Governor Deval Patrick's chagrin, House Speaker Robert DeLeo just revealed he's taking another international trip next month: to Italy, to meet the parents of the man who married one of his daughters.
Patrick, who has been pummeled with criticism for spending time out of state, was surprised by such a public declaration and tried to say that nothing had been confirmed.
DeLeo didn't back off, but dug the hole deeper, telling the governor that first lady Diane Patrick had told DeLeo herself they were making the trip.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo took the stage. Technical difficulties digested my recap of his remarks.
11:23 a.m. - Auditor Suzanne Bump is in her "principal" residence this morning.
Or is it "primary?"
Whatever, the newly elected auditor is in South Boston for the breakfast. Clad in a solid green dress, she joined state Representative Michael Moran at the microphone to sing, "The Wild Rover."
Surprisingly, Bump has escaped criticism so far over claiming two tax breaks for her eastern and western Massachusetts residences.
11:21 a.m. - The Tommy Butler tribute is ending with the singing of, "The Wild Rover."
11:16 a.m. - They're playing a video tribute to Southie's own Tommy Butler, a former Massport executive who died earlier this month.
He's also being remembered with mentions on lanyards distributed at the breakfast, and with a photo page on the inside cover of the program.
11:12 a.m. - Former host and current US Representative Stephen Lynch is at the microphone.
He joked that MIT scientists decided to test the Jeopardy-winning IBM supercomputer "Watson" against the math whiz in Massachusetts, Secretary of State William Galvin.
Lynch joked that Galvin, who is famously droll, tied with Watson, but the computer won "based on personality."
11:09 a.m. - Senate President Therese Murray proves that with the great success of oversized photos of Scott Brown in Cosmopolitan magazine last year, no turn on stage is complete without some blown-up prop.
She had mock posters for movies supposedly made in Massachusetts, including, "Home Alone," featuring Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray.
11:06 a.m. - Senator Jack Hart introduces Senate President Therese Murray.
Murray says that while House Speaker Robert DeLeo slipped on ice and broke his ankle, "There's no truth to rumors I was out in front of his house that morning with a hose."
She quickly turns on Governor Deval Patrick, saying, "How can we miss you when you won't stay away."
She also gave him a traveling kit, with books by Senator Scott Brown, former Governor Mitt Romney and their fellow Republican, former President George W. Bush, "when you're just looking for an easy read."
11 a.m. - Add to Governor Deval Patrick's many talents: He can actually sing, hitting all the high notes in his song.
The governor made a point of getting on and off of the stage, even saying at several times that he was almost done.
10:54 a.m. - Governor Deval Patrick is introduced and joked, "Good to be back with all my cousins this morning."
Patrick himself made light of the reaction to his recent travels, saying Republicans criticize him for not being here to hear their criticisms, Democrats for not being here to distract from their own inaction, and Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray for not staying away for longer.
"Seriously, I missed you when I was away," the governor told the crowd, before saying he had sung himself to sleep with a rendition of "Oh Danny Boy" he wanted to repeat despite it being a Scottish tune.
"Oh, Bobby Boy, the slots, the slots are calling," he started, targeting House Speaker Robert DeLeo, an advocate of slot machines at the state's four racetracks. "From Wonderland to down by Raynham way. Those racinos in love with which you're falling, while I am gov, won't see the light of day."
10:49 a.m. - Senator Scott Brown spreads his hits around, saying of his senior colleague, Senator John Kerry, "I don't think he's elitist and neither do his butlers."
Brown then hit House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who recently broke his ankle, and who also follows three speakers who, to put it kindly, had legal problems.
He joked that in riding in a car for the Southie St. Patrick's Day parade, DeLeo would have the unique of experience being in a vehicle where one of his predecessors actually made the license plates.
Brown concluded with a quip that he was having a book signing at the Kennedy library, "or as I like to call it, 'the people's library.'"
10:45 a.m. - Senator Scott Brown, who went to Tufts University with host Senator Jack Hart, takes the stage.
He starts with appreciation to veterans and those still serving everywhere, as well as the Japanese earthquake victims.
Brown jokes that Hart tricked him into coming by telling him the breakfast was a book-signing.
The senator said to Governor Deval Patrick, "Thanks for visiting. Are you here long?"
Brown also gave Patrick a cellphone pre-programmed with phone number of Fidelity Investments, including the U.S. country code for his next foreign trip.
Obviously, it was a jab at the company's decision to ship 1,100 jobs out of Massachusetts while Patrick was on his trade mission.
The governor said he was blind-sided by the announcement.
10:42 a.m. - The band just finished a rendition of "Charlie on the MTA" reworded as a tribute to Mayor Thomas M. Menino, the city's longest-serving leader.
"The Mayor Who Would Never Retire" was the key verse.
10:35 a.m. - Mayor Thomas M. Menino jokes about autobiographies by Senator Scott Brown and Governor Deval Patrick with a three-page book of his own: he was born (complete with a photo of Menino as an infant), became mayor, the end.
Menino also hit Patrick over his trade mission to the Middle East and the United Kingdom, asking to the effect of, "Whoever thought it was possible to bring pork back from Israel?"
The mayor sounded very raspy.
10:33 a.m. - Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino taking stage as video plays recalling his many injuries this year and to images of Lee Majors turning from astronaut to the "Six Million Dollar Man" in the famed 1970s show about a bionic man.
Rocky theme also played.
"The rumors of my ultimate demise have been greatly exaggerated," Menino says. "Sorry, all you wannabes."
10:32 a.m. - Senator Jack Hart starts with bad-winter jokes, saying it was so cold, "I saw a picture of Senator Scott Brown in Cosmopolitan with his clothes on."
10:19 a.m. - Commanding officer of the USS Ross, a Navy guided missile cruiser that came into Boston for parade weekend, led the Pledge of Allegiance, and now they're commemorating the 30th anniversary of construction of South Boston's Vietnam War memorial.
There were 25 from the neighborhood who died in the war.
Tom Lyons, who led the remembrance, left with six friends. Three died.
10:15 a.m. - The priest, the Rev. Joe White, just announced that Mary Fitzgerald Finneran, the mother of former House Speaker Thomas Finneran, died last night, as he recalled Tommy Butler and others who have recently passed away.
The news sent a murmur through the crowd.
10:14 a.m. - Even the priest, in his invocation, hits Governor Deval Patrick for his recent travels.
10:07 a.m. - Senator Jack Hart, the host, delivers first tweak to Governor Deval Patrick, welcoming him "home" from his "spring break" and "sporting a new tan."
Surely more travel jokes to follow.
10:04 a.m. - Senator Jack Hart takes the stage to, "If your Irish, Come into the Parlor."
Quick segue to, "Southie is my Hometown."
10:00 a.m. - The background music and clapping kick up as NECN goes on the air...
9:58 a.m. - The remembrance of Tommy Butler extends to the lanyards all breakfast officials are wearing. They read, "In memory of Tom Butler," with a heart symbolizing love.
9:52 a.m. - Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo are seated side-by-side three and four seats to the right of the podium.
Newly elected City Councilor Tito Jackson has also qualified for stage treatment.
9:47 a.m. - Advance word that Governor Deval Patrick will sing, "Oh Danny Boy" during his turn at the microphone, while Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray will do, "On the Road Again."
A reference to the governor's many travels?
9:43 a.m. - Breakfast is down: scrambled eggs, two sausage links, and corned beef hash. Coffee, orange juice, and soda bread on the table.
Treasurer Steve Grossman just walked across the stage and boasted he can sing.
Somehow, he feels like a prime candidate for a good roasting.
9:28 a.m. - Guests are asked to take their seats before any remainders are filled.
The type of event this is?
Even the two fire marshals and two nurses on hand to take care of everyone get introduced and are greeted with knowing applause from the crowd.
9:15 a.m. - Senator Scott Brown arrived about a half-hour ago and told the Globe and WBZ Radio he supports the US air strikes against Libya.
"Obviously, it gets to a point where you have to draw a line in the sand, and when innocent civilians are being killed, it's important for the world community to step forward, and we're doing it in a coalition manner, and I'm supportive of that," the Massachusetts Republican said.
See the full story here.
8:39 a.m. - Nice touch by Senator Jack Hart and other event organizers: Inside the cover of the program is a photo and tribute to Southie's own Thomas Butler, a Massport executive who died March 4.
"Never to be forgotten," it reads. "Rest in Peace, Tom."
8:25 a.m. - After organizers cleared the room for a photo of the set-up, the doors have opened and the guests are rushing for prime seats.
Those with yellow bracelets get to sit and enjoy corned beef and eggs; those with orange will have to stand and watch.
And, yes, the bar is open.
Outside the ballroom, in a quiet hallway, twin 19-year-old sisters Dylan and Olivia Mullen are warming up for their rendition of the National Anthem. They toured last year with tenor Ronan Tynan.
I'm live-blogging today from the annual South Boston St. Patrick's Day breakfast and political roast.
It's being held at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, and formally begins at 10 a.m.
NECN is providing exclusive television coverage starting at that time. It will also stream a tape of the event at 1 p.m.
Senator Scott Brown said this morning he supports the unfolding wave of U.S. air strikes on Libya, saying they are necessary to stop the killing of innocent civilians.
The Massachusetts Republican, confronting the first military action launched since he took office a year ago, said, "I support the administration's involvement at this point. Obviously, it gets to a point where you have to draw a line in the sand, and when innocent civilians are being killed, it's important for the world community to step forward, and we're doing it in a coalition manner, and I'm supportive of that."
Brown, who also is a JAG officer in the Massachusetts National Guard, refused to say if he would support the additional use of ground troops. President Obama has repeatedly said the action will be limited to air support in the form of an opening wave of cruise missiles attacks, as well as an overnight B-2 bombing run and the possibility of combat air patrols to enforce a UN-backed no-fly zone.
"That's a hypothetical I'm not really ready to comment on," Brown told a pair of reporters as he arrived at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center for the annual South Boston St. Patrick's Day breakfast and political roast.
"But I think that we're going to follow the lead and work together with other countries to determine what the obstacles are and where it goes from here," he added. "I think it's a mission in progress and we'll know more in a day or two."
Brown also refused to say if he would support strikes on Yemen and Bahrain, two other Middle Eastern countries where pro-democracy forces have clashed with authoritarian regimes.
"You're starting to get into hypotheticals, but in this instance, it's clear that (Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy) was using his own forces to kill innocent civilians, and that's where I draw the line," Brown said.
By Donovan Slack, Globe Staff
WASHINGTON -- Senator John F. Kerry, who has been pushing in recent weeks for the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya, issued a statement this afternoon supporting President Obama's declaration that he will order the use of military force if Libyan leader Moammar Kahdafi does not comply with a United Nations resolution directing him to stop military operations against the Libyan people.
“President Obama’s stern ultimatum to Kahdafi is the right message," Kerry said. "There must be a full cessation of hostilities immediately."
Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reiterated earlier statements -- some of which were echoed by the president today -- that Kahdafi "has lost all legitimacy and determined international pressure will remain imperative to ensure that the will of the Libyan people prevails."
The senior senator from Massachusetts has been pushing for action in Libya since Feb. 22, after Kahdafi ordered attacks on Libyans who were protesting his regime.
The president announced today that the United States and its allies will not sit idly by as the Libyan leader uses violent force to suppress protests and re-take territory now in control of the opposition, including the major city of Benghazi, which has a population of 700,000 people.
Obama, saying the resolution passed yesterday by the UN Security Council lays out clear demands, ordered Kahdafi not to advance troops into Benghazi, to pull them back from other areas, allow humanitarian supplies to reach the Libyan people and restore gas and electric service throughout the country.
“Now once more, Moammar Kahdafi has a choice,” Obama said in brief remarks at the White House.
Obama said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet in Paris with officials from Britain, France and other allies tomorrow to discuss what actions the coalition will take. He said the goal of any action would be to secure the lives of civilians and not to topple Kahdafi's regime, which he said would be up to the people of Libya. The president added that he would not order any ground troops into the country, so military actions likely would be confined to air strikes.
“Our goal is focused, our cause is just and our coalition is strong,” Obama said.
Kerry credited the president this afternoon with "deft" diplomacy.
"The Obama administration’s deft diplomatic efforts that built a strong international coalition to enforce tough measures against Kahdafi have been essential," Kerry said. .
Donovan Slack can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @DonovanSlack.
Governor Deval Patrick said today he didn't want to "scold" Fidelity Investments for its surprise announcement that it was shutting its Marlborough office and moving 1,100 jobs to Rhode Island and New Hampshire.
Then he did so.
In no uncertain terms, he scolded the famously secretive, family held financial giant as much for its lack of communication preceding the announcement as the content of the announcement itself.
"Let me just also say, there’s a conversation we're going to have to have … that I’ve been trying to have since the first few weeks I’ve been in this job, and it has to do with communication," the governor said. "I can't complete if I don’t know something's at risk.”
It was a risky posture to strike, considering the company has 7,300 workers still in Massachusetts and plenty of clout in the business world. Patrick acknowledged as much.
"Massachusetts has been kind to Fidelity. I know that’s a two-way street, but if we’re going to build on what we have here, then they need to tell me what they need and I need to be able at least to have an opportunity to respond," he said.
The governor added: "I feel disappointed and frustrated."
Fidelity spokeswoman Anne Crowley said the decision was not rooted in a competition that Patrick could have won; rather, it was based on Fidelity's decision to consolidate its real estate holdings during the next two years.
Asked about the company's relationship with the Patrick administration, Crowley said: "We have an ongoing relationship with the state and we are not going to discuss the details of our relationship."
And as to whether she believed Patrick was scolding the company, Crowley said: "It's not my job to comment on his public relations strategy."
The governor addressed the media for the first time since returning to Massachusetts from a 10-day trade mission to Israel and the United Kingdom.
While a British firm announced it would add 50 jobs in Massachusetts, the excursion produced no major business deals and prompted questions about the governor's attention to the homefront in the aftermath of Fidelity's decision to move jobs not to low-cost China or another state with more favorable weather, but primarily to two neighboring states.
“I'm in touch with my Cabinet routinely and was throughout the trip," he said. "This wasn't some disengagement, by the way; I was working for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on this trip, and doing what is on the minds of most folks which is everything we can to try to grow job opportunities here in the commonwealth.”
On the subject of expanded legal gambling, the governor indicated he was willing to discuss the topic after previously saying it was up to the Legislature to advance a proposal. Last year he and House Speaker Robert DeLeo stalemated after he insisted on passing a bill that included slot machines at the state's four racetracks and Patrick declared he would not allow slots but only up to three casinos.
"We’re going to try," Patrick said of him and DeLeo. "I don’t want to spend a lot of my time on this issue and have all the oxygen sucked out of the building when there are so many other things to do, and so I think the speaker and the Senate president and I agree that we should try to have at least some general agreement on the fundamentals before a bill is filed, so we’re not spending all our time on that.”
Governor Deval Patrick is hosting a fundraiser at his Milton home Sunday evening despite his insistence that he is leaving political office after completing his term in 2015.
The suggested donation for the event, which will have a St. Patrick's Day theme, is either $250 or $500, with a notation on the invitation that up to $5,500 can be contributed.
Patrick spokesman Steve Crawford said the fundraiser will help retire the governor's campaign debts and also benefit the Massachusetts Democratic Party.
Earlier this month, members of a Boston law firm hosted a similar event on Patrick's behalf.
The first $500 donated - the maximum allowable annual contribution for individuals under state law - went to the governor's campaign account.
The remaining $5,000 was allocated to the state party.
The notation on the invitation for the Sunday event is a disclaimer outlining how any large contribution would be allocated, Crawford said.
Patrick has repeatedly said that he will serve no longer than two terms as governor. The Democrat has also ruled out a potential challenge to US Senator Scott Brown when the Republican seeks re-election next year.
Nonetheless, he has ramped up his political activity since winning his second term in November.
He flew to Washington to meet with Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, and to Chicago to meet with David Axelrod, who has served as a top political adviser to both Patrick and President Barack Obama.
In addition, he is forming a political action committee to pay bills he anticipates incurring over the next two years as he speaks to his fellow Democrats and acts as a surrogate campaigner for Obama.
He addressed Colorado Democrats earlier this month.
Glen Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.
WASHINGTON – Updated, 12:29 p.m. -- US Senator Scott Brown, a Massachusetts Republican, is urging President Obama and congressional leaders from both parties in a letter to reconsider spending priorities at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Brown wrote that homelessness in the Bay State and across the nation is up due to the foreclosure crisis, and noted that families with children are the fastest-growing segment of new homeless.
“HUD Programs provide rental assistance for low income citizens and other homelessness programs,” Brown wrote. “These rental programs are vital to Massachusetts and should be protected at a time when the Massachusetts unemployment rate is about eight percent.”
But HUD continues to "waste taxpayer dollars by pushing a failed policy that seeks to subsidize and maximize home ownership opportunities,” Brown wrote. “For example, HUD’S HOME Investment Partnership program continues to spend taxpayer dollars promoting home ownership, even though rental programs have proven to be more effective in promoting stability in low income neighborhoods….
“As part of the effort to get our fiscal house in order, we should reform our housing policies and direct agencies to provide maximum protection for low income rental assistance recipients while also saving money by eliminating programs that we know do not work and in fact do harm.”
WASHINGTON – A financial vestige of US efforts to encourage peace in Northern Ireland has disappeared after a quarter century, leaving disagreements that echo on both sides of the Atlantic and have divided two of the Bay State’s congressmen.
Congress recently eliminated nearly $20 million in an earmark for the International Fund for Ireland. The economic aid had been extended by the United States every year since the 1980s to help smooth the turbulence of the island’s deep conflicts. Once supported by Senator Edward M. Kennedy as an important element of the peace process, the accumulated payments reached a total of $450 million.
The debate over the money continues. Irish officials in Washington this week are asking members of Congress to restore the funds. And the Obama administration is seeking to put the money back into a future budget.
They have an ally in Representative Richard Neal of Springfield. In a statement emailed to the Globe, Neal spokesman William Tranghese said this week that Neal supports a move by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to restore aid to the International Fund for Ireland in the 2012 State Department budget.
"Mr. Neal supports continued funding for the IFI because he feels it is not the time to be sending a message to the people on the island of Ireland that the United States is no longer interested in their journey towards peace and reconciliation,’’ Tranghese said. "He hopes to work with his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to restore our contribution to the fund.’’
Yet the spending cut has its backers, including Representative Stephen Lynch. Steeped in South Boston politics, you would think aid for Northern Ireland would automatically win his support. But Lynch thinks the money could be better spent on scholarships, not on economic aid.
In a letter to House budget leaders, he is calling for $5 million a year, for four years starting in 2012, to be directed to an existing scholarship in the name of George Mitchell, the former US Senate majority leader and envoy who negotiated the lasting Northern Ireland peace in the 1990s. Lynch says using the money for scholarships instead of on aid for the International Fund for Ireland amounts to "building a future relationship based on contemporary realities rather than nostalgia.’’
The Mitchell scholarship is administered by the US-Ireland Alliance, a non-profit foundation that is headed by Trina Vargo, a former foreign policy advisory to Ted Kennedy. Vargo could not be immediately reached by phone this afternoon. But she has said that the US financial assistance to the International Fund for Ireland has created a dependency that Ireland needs to end, according to press accounts.
Writing in the Irish Echo last year, she said: "While the Fund did many good things in those early years, it became one of those taps that was never turned off. While I was still working with Senator Kennedy, he stopped requesting funding for the IFI. That was more than a decade ago. We had simply come to the conclusion that the IFI had served its purpose.’’
WASHINGTON — In a column published this week in the gay-issue newspaper Bay Windows, US Senator John Kerry called for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, and its replacement with legislation to make same sex couples eligible for federal benefits that would include family and medical leave, Social Security spousal and survivors’ benefits, and the ability to file joint federal tax returns.
The 1996 law, typically abbreviated DOMA, defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and says that no US state has to recognize same sex marriages performed in another state.
In his op-ed, Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, said the law is unconstitutional—a conclusion recently reached by the Obama administration, which has announced it would no longer defend challenges to DOMA in federal court.
“My vote against [DOMA] -- which some predicted would cost me reelection in 1996 -- is among my proudest votes as a United States Senator,” Kerry wrote. “But my job in 2011 isn’t to feel good about my vote -- or to boast that fifteen years later, I’m vindicated when at last an American president now agrees that DOMA is unconstitutional.
“No, my job -- and our job together," Kerry wrote, " is to work to undo the damage that DOMA has done in treating loving, committed couples like second class citizens."
Kerry said he is committed to repealing DOMA “as quickly as possible.” He has signed on to legislation seeking to repeal the law, though such a bill would have a difficult time winning approval this session in the Republican-controlled US House.
NASHUA, N.H. Newt Gingrich is making his first trip of the year to this politically crucial state as the Georgia Republican gauges whether there’s enough of a calling for him to run for president.
The former House speaker is scheduled to start today at a St. Patrick’s Day charity breakfast in Nashua, an event where those at the podium are judged more by the quality of their jokes than their political policies.
The breakfast has been a must-attend event in the past, with featured speakers including Pat Buchanan and Mitt Romney.
Later in the day, Gingrich is attending a luncheon at the Boys and Girls Club in Salem, N.H., before finishing his mini-tour with a dinner in Manchester.
Gingrich announced earlier this month he was starting an exploratory phase in his presidential run, and this marks his first trip to New Hampshire since that announcement.
It could prove to be a vital trip for Gingrich’s decision in running for president, for the role New Hampshire would play in his campaign, and for the GOP elite here who are still looking for a candidate who can effectively challenge President Obama.
“Most of us have fond memories of him from 94,” said Charles Arlinghaus, president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, a Concord-based conservative think tank. “The question for him is, can he transfer that sort of celebrity. He’s a great talking head on television or giving a speech, which is a slightly different skill set than being a candidate for president.”
Gingrich’s trip comes amid heightened activity in the Granite State as likely presidential candidates begin to test run their messages. Stumping in the state last week were former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, US Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, and former US Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is speaking tomorrow night at a dinner in Manchester.
Romney, who addressed state GOP activists earlier this month, is far and away the frontrunner in New Hampshire : and the state is vital to his hopes in becoming the Republican nominee.
Forty percent of likely GOP primary voters said they would vote for the former Massachusetts governor, according to a poll conducted last month by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. The only other candidate in double figures was Giuliani, with 10 percent. Only 6 percent said they would vote for Gingrich.
One hurdle for Gingrich: in the poll, 40 percent said they had an unfavorable view of him, a figure that was worse than every candidate except Sarah Palin (50 percent unfavorable) and Donald Trump (64 percent)
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com.
WASHINGTON — It’s the speculation US Senator John Kerry just can’t shake: Is he seeking to be the next secretary of state?
The conjecture grows more intense as the Massachusetts Democrat and chair of the Foreign Relations Committee has taken highly-public role in shaping US policy toward the political upheaval in the Middle East.
With Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledging in a CNN interview that she would not serve another term if President Obama is reelected in 2012, could the stage be set for Kerry to take over? With his lengthy foreign policy experience, Kerry has long been considered by pundits a potential cabinet pick for Obama, whom Kerry strongly supported early in his presidential candidacy.
But does Kerry want to be secretary of state?
“No,” said the senator’s spokesperson, Whitney Smith, in a one-word answer by email.
Somehow that doesn't sound like the final word on the subject.
WASHINGTON US Senator John Kerry is urging the Obama administration to back a no-fly zone over Libya, calling for the United Nations to quickly approve a resolution to ground Libyan leader Moammar Kahdafi’s warplanes.
Kahdafi is using his air force to pound the rebels trying to overthrow him.
“The international community cannot simply watch from the sidelines as this quest for democracy is met with raw violence,” said Kerry, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, in a lengthy policy speech today.
The Massachusetts Democrat said the Arab League’s endorsement this weekend of a no-fly zone over Libya is unprecedented.
“The Security Council should act now, in my judgment, to heed the Arab League’s call” and to avert a humanitarian disaster, said Kerry, in remarks to a room packed with foreign journalists at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington think tank.
Kerry’s call for action on a no-fly zone marks an evolution in his view on the subject. He did not start out calling for immediate imposition of a no-fly zone; rather, he urged diplomatic and logistical preparation for the zone.
His call also puts him at odds with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has said attacking Libya's planes and air defenses would be an act of war.
The speech is the latest of Kerry’s high-profile efforts to guide US policy through the chain of popular uprisings in the Middle East. He urged preparations for a no-fly zone on the CBS News program “Face the Nation” two weekends ago.
Also, at the height of the unrest in Egypt last month, the senator penned a New York Times column encouraging embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s to give up power.
President Obama has not endorsed a no-fly zone, though he has “not taken any options off the table,” the president said on Friday.
Another option under consideration is for the US to give some $32 billion in frozen Libyan government assets to the rebels, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Tuesday.
Office of the Governor
Governor Deval Patrick is in England, not Italy, yet there is an aura of Rome-burning-while-Nero-is-fiddling to his trade mission events and communications after Fidelity Investments announced Tuesday it's closing its Marlborough offices and costing Massachusetts over 1,000 jobs in the process.
The first week of Patrick's international trade mission produced no job deals, despite him touring Israel with such heavyweights as New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
Since the weekend, the immediate benefits of the trip have become even more imperceptible, as the governor has visited a World War II cemetery, taken a tourist's trip to the House of Commons for "question time," and held a series of meet-and-greet meetings with members of Parliament.
The purpose for the latter, according to a gubernatorial statement, was "to discuss growing economic opportunities between the UK and Massachusetts."
All the while, Patrick withheld issuing a statement on Fidelity's decision, delegating the duty to the acting governor, Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. Murray said the state was "disappointed" at the job cuts and would offer assistance to displaced workers.
Aides initially said the governor's busy schedule had kept them from reaching him or getting him on the telephone with Boston reporters. By late afternoon today, they put him on the phone with the Globe for what an aide said would be a two-minute conversation. It ended up lasting only slightly longer than that.
In the aftermath of the announcement, the governor did not jump on a plane to make any sort of direct appeal for the company to reverse its decision.
Instead, he remained in England on Tuesday, where he attended a ceremony to sign an agreement securing an exchange of stem cell bank best practices, participated in a roundtable discussion with biotech officials, and took the cemetery tour.
On Monday, his staff trumpeted his two meetings with the US ambassador to the United Kingdom, although Lou Sussman may be less known as diplomat than he is as the Chicagoan who raised a lot of campaign cash for Patrick's good friend, President Obama.
Patrick's staff also notes he met with the CEO of Lloyd's of London, and held an economic roundtable discussion with representatives of the financial services industry.
Today, as Marlborough reeled from a blow to its tax base, Rhode Island reporters highlighted their state's efforts to expand Fidelity's presence, and the Massachusetts Senate announced it would investigate the company's decision, Patrick went to his Twitter account and wrote, "Attended Prime Minister's Questions & later met Speaker of the House of Commons Bercow."
An earlier tweet read: "Met with Members of Parliament this morning in London."
One press release highlighted his economic partnership meetings with members of Parliament. Another one today echoed the governor's tweet.
It was headlined, "Governor Patrick Attends Prime Minister Questions; Meets with British-American Parliamentary Group."
U.S. Representative Edward J. Markey is comparing the federal government’s loan guarantee program for new nuclear power plants to the much-aligned federal bailout program that bought up bad loans after the 2008 financial collapse.
The Malden Democrat, speaking today at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, warned that the loans will put taxpayers on the hook much as the Troubled Asset Relief Program took over defaulted loans after the financial collapse of 2008.
“They’re just like a toxic asset,” Markey said
Energy Secretary Steven Chu was present to testify at the hearing on the department’s 2012 budget, as well as that of the Nuclear Regulatory Agency. Much of the discussion centered on the disaster in Japan, and specifically on the damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.
The president has asked for $36 billion for 2012 to provide loan guarantees, which Chu said would fund six to eight new projects. The administration has already made about $8 billion in loan guarantees available, which will help build a new plant in Georgia.
Committee member Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, asked Chu if the administration still supported nuclear power.
Chu hedged, saying: “The present budget is what it is. We’re asking for loan guarantees, and for small modular reactors.”
“So that’s a yes?” Barton said. “That’s a yes,” Chu responded.
The process to redraw the state's legislative and congressional districts reaches the public arena today, when the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting holds its first meeting.
Senator Stanley C. Rosenberg of Amherst and Representative Michael J. Moran of Boston, the committee co-chairmen, will preside over the panel's first organizational meeting at 1 p.m.
The session will take place in Gardner Auditorium at the State House.
Afterward, the chairmen will unveil a redistricting website, as well as a schedule for their proposed public hearings.
The release of the US Census each decade triggers redistricting, since both legislative and congressional districts much reflect population apportionment.
Massachusetts lost residents during the past decade, so it is losing one congressional seat, going from 10 seats in the US House to nine. Those remaining districts much be expanded to accommodate.
Districts for both the state House and Senate must also be adjusted to accommodate population and demographic shifts.
The new districts must be establish for the 2012 elections.
It’s become a hot spot for politicians hawking books.
Tony Blair, Condoleezza Rice, and Jimmy Carter have all made appearances to promote their work. Now, it’s Governor Deval Patrick’s turn.
On April 12, the day his memoir is released, Patrick will be a guest on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart, according to the show’s staff.
His star turn on the popular Comedy Central program is expected to be just one of several national television appearances he makes to promote his memoir, “A Reason to Believe: Lessons from an Improbable Life.”
His publisher, Broadway Books, has already confirmed that the governor has agreed to several speaking engagements to promote his work, including appearances at the National Press Club in Washington and the Harold Washington Library in Chicago.
Governor Deval Patrick took a break from his international trade mission meetings today to visit the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial in Madingley, England, and pay his respects to fallen US military members from World War II.
A statement issued by his office said Patrick laid a wreath in honor of those members from Massachusetts. He also presented the cemetery with a Massachusetts flag previously flown over the State House in honor of the state’s service members who are buried in the cemetery, or listed as missing.
In addition, Patrick placed flowers on the grave of Technical Sergeant Chester W Yurick, of Needham, Mass. He served as radio operator on a B-24 Liberator from the 44th Bomb Group based at Shipdham in Norfolk, England.
Yurkick and his crew died following a crash landing after their aircraft was damaged by German defenses.
The Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial site was donated by the University of Cambridge and occupies about 30 acres. It contains the remains of 3,812 American military dead, including 360 from Massachusetts, with another 5,127 names recorded on the Tablets of the Missing.
Many of the soldiers buried at the cemetery died during the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II, or in the strategic air bombardment of northwest Europe.
WASHINGTON -- Representative William R. Keating scored a minority leadership post on a homeland security subcommittee, a position he plans to use to further investigate airport security breeches that allowed a North Carolina teen to stow away on a passenger jet before falling to his death last year in Massachusetts.
Keating's office announced today that the freshman Democrat has been appointed ranking member of the Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management, part of the House Homeland Security Committee.
"I relish the opportunity to delve deeper into the many issues plaguing our national security and believe this position is a natural transition from my background as a prosecutor," Keating said in a statement.
Keating served as Norfolk District Attorney before winning a seat in Congress last November. It was in that position that he oversaw the death investigation of 16-year-old Delvonte Tisdale, who fell from the wheel well of a Boeing 737 that was traveling from Charlotte, N.C., to Boston last Nov. 19.
"I know his experience as a District Attorney will be invaluable in his new capacity and I look forward to working with him on the issues that affect the Department of Homeland Security,” said Representative Bennie G. Thompson, ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee, according to the statement from Keating's office.
Donovan Slack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @DonovanSlack.
Kim Haberlin/Office of the Governor
Representatives of the University of Massachusetts Human Stem Cell Bank and Registry and the United Kingdom Stem Cell Bank signed an agreement today to share best practices for stem cell banking.
The two parties, acting during part of Governor Deval Patrick's trade mission to Israel and the United Kingdom, also agreed to collaborate on standards for stem cell line characterization, production, and distribution in the US and UK.
The agreement was signed after Patrick met with Glyn Stacey, director of the UK Stem Cell Bank, at the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control in Hertfordshire, England.
It also follows a similar memorandum of understanding signed last week between Massachusetts and Israel for further collaboration in research and development programs between Bay State and Israeli companies.
The UMass Human Stem Cell Bank and Registry and the UK Stem Cell Bank support international research in regenerative and stem cell medicine.
They provide the biomedical research community with expertly derived and maintained human embryonic stem cell lines for fundamental biological investigation and therapeutic applications.
The banks provide high-quality, reliable stem cell lines to researchers working on discovering new therapeutic treatments for diseases such as cancer, juvenile diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s, among others.
Under the agreement, the two banks will identify shared priorities and create models that foster collaboration and cooperation.
Later in the day, the governor visited Granta Science Park in Cambridge to discuss plans to cultivate new investment and partnerships between the Massachusetts and UK life sciences sectors.
As he did last week in Israel, Patrick also hosted a roundtable discussion with researchers and industry leaders at Granta Science Park, where many UK-based life sciences companies are located.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo today proposed a series of steps aimed at reducing the influence lawmakers such as him have over the hiring process at the state Probation Department, whose past practices are now the subject of state and federal criminal investigations.
Only those who exceed a required score would advance, the Winthrop Democrat said, and "recommendation" letters from potential sponsors in the Legislature could only be opened in the final stages of evaluation. Afterward, letters written on behalf of all applicants who get hired would become public records, available for public and media inspection.
DeLeo had previously discussed a hiring process akin to the Civil Service procedure used for other state employees. It, too, requires a test that creates a pool of applicants.
"A job recommendation is a serious matter," DeLeo said of the lawmaker-letters that have sparked criticism but which lawmakers such as him defend as one of their fundamental responsibilities as a public representative. "We all know that a job recommendation from a public official carries weight, and I will be the first to say that all recommendations for successful candidates should be transparent."
A Globe Spotlight report found that the Probation Department had employed at least 250 friends, relatives, and financial backers of politicians and top court officials.
DeLeo himself wrote a letter of recommendation for his godson, who was hired in 2004 and became the youngest probation officer in the state.
In the advance text of his remarks, DeLeo also called for transferring business administration responsibilities for the state's court system from the chief administrative judge to a civilian court administrator with "substantial expertise" in finance and management.
The current chief administrative judge, Robert A. Mulligan, has been alternately lauded and criticized for his oversight of hiring within the Probation Department. It is currently overseen by the Judicial Branch and, in his remarks, DeLeo supported keeping it there rather than transferring oversight to the Executive Branch, as sought by Governor Deval Patrick.
Nonetheless, DeLeo said the courts would benefit from transferring overall oversight for facilities management, personnel management, accounting, capital planning, and information technology from the chief justice for administration and management to a manager who is not a lawyer.
"In separating the judicial and business functions of the court, the chief justices of each of the court departments will properly maintain responsibility for all other core judicial functions, such as monitoring caseload, assigning judges, judicial training, and judicial discipline," said DeLeo.
The speaker said keeping Probation under the judiciary made sense since probation officers are trusted advisers to judges.
The proposal was cheered by the Massachusetts Bar Association.
"The model developed by DeLeo will professionalize court management and operations. Management issues have haunted the courts for too long resulting in a poorly run, inefficient system," the lawyer advocacy agency said.
"The employ of a professionally trained, non-judicial court administrator along with other skilled civilian administrators throughout the Trial Court will bring Massachusetts in line with the country’s leading edge, innovative state court systems," the association added. "Massachusetts’ citizens will be assured that its state’s judges will be performing the judicial tasks that they were selected to perform rather than be bogged down with management functions."
The bar association also endorsed keeping Probation within the Judicial Branch.
Elsewhere in his remarks, DeLeo repeated his vow not to support any new taxes or fees in the House budget about to be unveiled.
He said he would continue to work with Patrick and Senate President Therese Murray on legislation to expand legalized gambling in Massachusetts. A bill last year to create up to three casinos died after DeLeo insisted and Patrick refused to add slot machines at the state's four racetracks.
While Patrick has not changed his position, DeLeo cast the matter as one of financial necessity, saying it is "the quickest way" to offset projected local aid cuts.
He added: "As our economy recovers, we still find ourselves in the midst of a 'blue-collar depression." I routinely hear about unemployment rates of 30 percent, 40 percent, 50 percent at building trade union halls across the state. Given this environment, we have to find a way to create thousands of construction jobs and permanent jobs."
He also pledged that by the time his chamber approves the budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, the House will have approved a bill requiring cities and towns to provide health insurance plans that at least mirror the state's Group Insurance Commission.
"If cities and towns can’t meet or beat the GIC, they will be forced to join it," DeLeo said in his text. "I’ve seen my hometown of Winthrop save $800,000 annually by joining the GIC. If all cities and towns did so, this would collectively save $100 million."
Senate Republicans are threatening to hold up White House nominations unless the Senate passes trade deals with Columbia and Panama, but GOP moderates from New England aren’t of the same mind on the matter.
Forty-four Republicans signed a letter today telling Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada that they would block the administration’s nominees for commerce secretary and other positions until the Senate takes up the trade pacts.
Scott Brown of Massachusetts was among those signing the letter, but Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, the two Senators from Maine who have increasingly voted with Brown in a moderate GOP bloc in the Senate, did not sign. The third GOP abstainer was Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Spokespeople for Snowe and Collins did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The letter accused the president of “an apparent lack of interest in seeking approval of these free trade agreements.” Approval of the pacts would be beneficial to American workers, they wrote, and further delay is “unnecessary and inexcusable.”
“So important are these deals to our economy and our relations with these key allies in Latin America that, until the President submits both agreements to Congress for approval and commits to signing implementing legislation into law, we will use all the tools at our disposal to force action, including withholding support for any nominee for Commerce Secretary and any trade-related nominees,” the letter read.
Last week, Obama nominated Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to replace Jon Huntsman as ambassador to China, leaving the commerce chief position vacant and creating the opportunity for another high-profile nomination fight in the Senate.
A group of mostly MIT-affiliated academics and others have written an an open letter to Hillary Clinton showing disappointment at the resignation of State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley following his critical remarks about the Pentagon at an MIT event. Crowley resigned yesterday after saying on Thursday at a seminar that the Pentagon’s treatment of WikiLeaks suspect Private First Class Bradley Manning -- who is being held in solitary confinement and stripped naked and made to wear a suicide-proof smock each night -- is "stupid" and "counterproductive."
The letter expresses disappointment at Crowley’s resignation and champions the open discussion that fostered the exchange of opinion. “If public officials are made to fear expressing their truthful opinions,” the group writes, “we have laid the groundwork for ineffective, dishonest, and unresponsive governance.”
The disaster in Japan and the rising threat of nuclear meltdown from damaged reactors should trigger a “long overdue discussion of energy security” but does not raise new safety concerns about nuclear power, Senator John Kerry said today.
“A lot of folks took a new hard look at nuclear because it’s low carbon energy, but the safety questions about meltdowns and waste were always part of the discussion,” the Massachusetts Democrat said in a statement.
Kerry’s comments on nuclear energy came in response to the rising threat posed by the badly damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, where worries of nuclear meltdown have been rising since last week’s massive quake and tsunami.
“We should absolutely know who is in charge in the United States if our existing nuclear plants are endangered by a natural disaster, and we should be looking hard at the siting issues, but again these aren’t new questions,” he said.
Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, a long-time supporter of nuclear energy who co-authored a climate change bill with Kerry lest year, called over the weekend for the United States to “put the brakes on” nuclear power until events unfolding in Japan are understood.
Kerry’s statement did not call for any kind of change in policy with respect to nuclear energy, but did provide a reminder of sorts for why skeptics came to support nuclear power as a flawed but necessary part of a national clean energy policy.
“In recent years, environmentalists and policy makers in both parties started taking a fresh look at nuclear power because none of our current energy options are without a downside,” he said.
“It’s up to all of us to make sure it’s a productive policy discussion that recognizes we have to get our energy from somewhere, and right now none of our options are entirely attractive.”
U.S. Representative Edward J. Markey, a Democrat from Malden, called on the Obama administration to distribute potassium iodide, which is ingested to protect the thyroid gland from radiation, to residents within 20 miles of nuclear plants.
Congress approved the requirement in legislation in 2002, but the federal government never instituted the policy proposed by Markey, who is a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
“We should not wait for a catastrophic accident at or a terrorist attack on a nuclear reactor in this country to occur to implement this common-sense emergency preparedness measure,” Markey wrote in the letter to John Holdren, the director of the Office of Science & Technology Policy.
NEWTON Former US Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who campaigned for Mitt Romney in 2008 but is now weighing his own bid for the Republican presidential nomination, today attacked Romney for signing Massachusetts’ universal health care law.
Calling himself a "consistent conservative," on social and economic issues, Santorum said both the 2006 Massachusetts law and President Obama’s recent overhaul of the national health care system would drive more people in to government-sponsored health plans.
“The issues, unfortunately, don’t line up particularly well for Governor Romney this time, particularly with health care being front and center on the stage,” Santorum said in an interview before he addressed a Roman Catholic group.
“I feel we need someone who is a strong, principled conservative who believes not in government mandates, not in government control of the health care system, but in a patient-centered approach to health care,” Santorum said.
Santorum added that both the state and federal laws "tend to drive employers out of the private sector plans because they’re expensive and more people end up on the government plan."
“Ultimately, it’s a failure," Santorum said.
Romney's spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, responded today by saying the Massachusetts law may not work for every state.
Governor Deval Patrick's trade mission resumed after a day off, with him convening a meeting of Massachusetts and United Kingdom financial services industry leaders in London today that focused on potential collaborations and job creation ideas.
“To maintain our competitive edge and attract the jobs of tomorrow, we must strengthen our ties to our UK counterparts and find new opportunities for mutual growth," Patrick said in a statement.
A discussion hosted by City of London Corporation in the center of London's financial district included executives such as John Hailer, president & CEO of Natixis Global Asset Management, as well as executives from PricewaterhouseCoopers, State Street Corporation, Citizens Bank, Bain Capital, Putnam Investments, Barclays Bank, and Goldman Sachs International.
Natixis Global Asset Management is a global asset management company headquartered in Boston and Paris with $719 billion of assets under management. Natixis employs 2,800 employees worldwide, including over 1,100 residing in Boston.
The roundtable marked the final forum during the first full day of the second phase of the trade mission. Last week, the governor visited Israel.
On Monday, Patrick and his delegation received a briefing from United States Ambassador to Great Britain Louis Susman.
They also traveled to the London Stock Exchange for an information technology sector roundtable.
Patrick then went US Embassy for a private meeting with Susman, a fellow Chicagoan and major financial backer of President Obama, before re-joining the delegation for a tour of Lloyd's of London and Lloyd's Market.
The delegation also met Lloyd's CEO Richard Ward, as well as Sean McGovern, director of North America.
Massachusetts Democrats weighing a US Senate campaign next year against Republican Scott Brown are still acting coy publicly, but they're betraying themselves electronically.
Over the weekend, word broke about an e-mail showing a supporter of Newton Mayor Setti Warren was trying to stockpile talent for a campaign starting in late April.
Today, an e-mail surfaced showing local communications strategist Dorie Clark seeking a campaign press secretary.
"A Democratic US Senate campaign seeks a press secretary," Clark wrote in an e-mail dated March 11, dropping any question about whether her candidate would run. "The ideal candidate will have on-the-record experience with a federal or statewide campaign. The position in based in Boston, Mass."
She asked that resumes be sent to her company e-mail address.
The request is also being circulated on the "JobsthatareLEFT" Google chat group, which seeks positions for liberal Democratic workers moving between campaigns.
When Clark was contacted by the Globe, she refused to explain for whom she was working.
"No comment at this point, I'm afraid," she wrote.
Clark is based in Somerville, the same hometown as Representative Michael Capuano, a prospective candidate. When he ran in the primary preceding last year's US Senate special election, he relied on his own congressional staff namely spokeswoman Alison Mills for his campaign needs.
Meanwhile, Robert Massie of Somerville has also announced he's running for the Democratic nomination. His campaign manager sent out a press release today touting Massie's showing in a weekend straw conducted by the North Andover Democratic Town Committee.
Massie was first, with 30 of 74 votes, or about 41 percent. Driscoll, who joined Massie in attending the meeting, was second with 18. Capuano had 14; Representative Stephen Lynch had 4; City Year co-founder Alan Khazei and Representative Edward J. Markey had 3 apiece; and Warren and finance executive Robert Pozen each received no votes.
Massie's campaign manager, Matt Wilson, said the ad was not for their campaign.
Khazei supporters took the none-too-subtle step last week of filing papers with the IRS to create a Senate exploratory committee.
While he said the press secretary ad isn't his, another posting on "JobsthatareLEFT" sought campaign finance workers for his exploratory committee.
"Responsibilities include: traveling and working directly with the candidate, organizing and coordinating events, organizing and working directly with donors, compiling and analyzing data, and developing and implementing strategic finance plans," the post says.
It adds: "Applicants must have a strong desire to work in the intense environment of a political campaign."
Essdras M. Suarez/ Globe Staff
Somerville resident Robert Massie has already said he's going to seek the Democratic nomination to run against Senator Scott Brown next year, and this past week, backers of City Year co-founder Alan Khazei filed papers with the IRS to form a campaign exploratory committee on his behalf.
Meanwhile, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll continues to weigh the balance between work and family, questioning whether she can make the commitment to a campaign while both leading a city and serving as mother to three young children.
And then there is Newton Mayor Setti Warren, who is impersonating his former boss, Senator John Kerry, by preparing to campaign while saying he is not.
Back in 2001 and early 2002, Kerry said his only focus was on getting re-elected during the fall of 2002. That he made the comment during visits to Iowa, New Hampshire, and other early presidential-voting states prompted questions about the sincerity of the statement.
The senator ended up with a free pass in the 2002 election, propelling him into a 2004 presidential campaign that resulted in him becoming the Democratic presidential nominee but losing the election to the Republican incumbent, President George W. Bush.
Throughout that effort, Warren served as Kerry's trip director. He was in charge of keeping the trains running on time and making sure Kerry got to where he needed to be. After the campaign, Warren did a stint in Kerry's Boston office before heading overseas on a military deployment. In 2009, he won his his first campaign for elective office.
Now, after little more than a year as mayor of Newton, Warren is weighing a challenge to one of the hottest commodities in the US Senate, Brown himself.
Brown's surprise win the January 2010 special election to replace the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy has heartened longshots everywhere. That the lowest-ranking member of the minority party of the Massachusetts state Senate could suddenly become the make-or-break vote in the upper chamber of the US Congress is already the stuff of political legend.
Brown went from nobody to everyman in less than three weeks, riding a post-New Year's poll showing him running strong all the way to a victory on Jan. 19, 2010.
Guided by savvy advisers, he also stopped blowing money when he had ample advertising and it became clear he was going to win, seeding a warchest for the true test: winning re-election to a full term in 2012. Brown now has over $7 million in the bank, and the book tour to promote his new autobiography, "Against All Odds," is being used to introduce him to potential Republican backers across the country.
The recent video showing him hitting up billionaire David Koch for a donation belied Brown's claims that he won't be politicking until next year. As he told Koch on the hidden-camera video, "I'm in cycle right now. We're already banging away."
By some estimates, Brown may spend $25 million on his campaign.
Last month, Governor Deval Patrick revealed Warren was more than considering a race, saying the mayor was "in, for sure," along with Khazei.
That forced Warren to at least acknowledge he was considering a race, but also to temper any actual commitment to running. Last week, the dance continued, as he showed up for President Obama's speech at TechBoston Academy, only to bob-and-weave afterward about whether Obama had asked him to challenge Brown.
He ultimately said they discussed a race, but the president did not ask him to run. Then, two days later, Warren renewed speculation by using his very public Twitter account to criticize one of Brown's Senate votes.
Over the weekend, Gintautas Dumcius of the Dorchester Reporter had an intriguing story saying a political consultant had sent an e-mail saying she may be staffing a Warren campaign by the end of April.
On one level, it's hard to envision Warren having much of a shot against the Brown juggernaut. Warren is barely 40 and has only one year in office to his credit. Brown is over 50 and served in Wrentham town government before working his way up to the state House of Representatives and state Senate.
While members of the Tea Party lament Brown's move to the middle, there are plenty of Republicans nationally who love the idea that their party holds Ted Kennedy's former seat. They show their affection with donations to Brown.
A poll just released by Western New England College found 52 percent of respondents felt Brown should be re-elected. It also showed him leading Warren head-to-head by a margin of 51 percent to 34 percent, as well as over another potential challenger, Representative Michael Capuano, by 51 percent to 38 percent.
(The telephone survey of 472 registered voters, conducted March 6-10, had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.)
Yet on another level, Warren's backers see a potent challenger.
Warren has proven an adept campaigner at multiple levels, winning election as class president at Newton North High School as well as his alma mater, Boston College. He has worked in federal office as both a Senate staffer and the New England director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
While Brown touts his service as a JAG officer in the Massachusetts National Guard, Warren can match it with his tenure an an intelligence officer in the US Navy Reserve. And when it comes to deployments, Warren can do one better: He did a year deployment in Iraq, a US combat zone, while Brown has not.
And though they don't publicly state it, Kerry, Patrick, and other Warren supporters make note of a simple fact: Warren is an African-American.
There currently are none in the US Senate. It's an omission they believe Massachusetts Democrats may want to address.
LEBANON, N.H. – Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty strongly opposes requiring citizens to buy health insurance, which is a core aspect of both the Democrats’ federal coverage law and the Massachusetts healthcare program signed by former Governor Mitt Romney.
But ask Pawlenty whether he specifically opposes the so-called "individual mandate’’ in Massachusetts, or if he thinks it was a mistake for Romney to adopt it, and he balks. He said he would rather not answer than generate more controversy within the possible GOP presidential primary field.
In that respect, he is different than Mike Huckabee and Haley Barbour, potential Republican candidates who have openly and specifically criticized "RomneyCare.’’
"Every time you see me you ask me some variation of these questions, trying to get me to contrast with Massachusetts, and I’ll just tell you what I did and what I believe and leave the analyzing to somebody else,’’ he told reporters today after discussing health reform with a group of doctors at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
"What happens is, if I comment about it, then you go back and write that Pawlenty bashes Massachuseetts, and there is tension between Pawlenty and Mitt, and I’m just not going to do that.’’
Pawlenty does have some specific ideas about overhauling the health care system.
He wants to change Medicaid into a block grant program for states, so they can spend the money however then want, as long as it is on healthcare delivery. He believes having federal standards for health plans is an excessive intrusion on the ability of states to innovate. In Medicare, he wants to offer more options like health savings accounts and Medicare HMOs.
Overall, Pawlenty maintains that he is a big believer in the power of quality and price transparency to create a market where consumers make choices and drive down costs through the power of free enterprise. He added that technology and greater efforts to combat waste and fraud will also drive down costs. The individual mandate – even though insurance companies say it is needed to expand the insurance pool to more healthy people and thereby hold down premiums – is an unprecedented "overreach’’ by government.
Some doctors at the noon forum today challenged Pawlenty, saying he was not offering sufficiently detailed alternatives to Medicare or ObamaCare, and that healthcare is too important a service to allow consumers to be subjected to the whims of the markets.
But Pawlenty said he has a different philosophy, built on giving information to patients and families and letting free markets do the rest.
"If they need financial help, then give it to them,’’ he said, "but let them make the choice and empower them rather than have a big government bureaucracy do it.’’
The state of Massachusetts is making sure former Governor Mitt Romney can't run away from the universal health care program he signed into law, and his opponents can't misrepresent it.
The Health Connector and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, which are charged with implementing the 2006 legislation, sent out an e-mail Friday containing a Top 10 list of facts about the measure.
One specifically describes the law Romney enacted as the model for the federal universal health care program signed into law by President Obama last year.
It has become the subject of national debate, as Republicans have derided what they term "Obamacare," while Democrats have noted it was modeled on "Romneycare."
The connection is particularly sensitive for Romney, a prospective 2012 GOP presidential candidate, since conservatives whose support he will need in his party's primaries have generally opposed both laws.
Romney has tried to rebuff the criticism by arguing that states should be free to enact their own plans, not be subjected to a single measure imposed by the federal government.
Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat who is planning to be a surrogate campaigner during Obama's re-election campaign next year, has publicly highlighted the similarities in the measures. Now his administration is echoing the message.
"As much is being written about our landmark 2006 Massachusetts health reform legislation and implementation, we want to make sure you have all the pertinent facts at your disposal," Connector spokesman Dick Powers said in the e-mail.
The No. 6 point says flatly: "Massachusetts health reform provided the model for national reform. Like Massachusetts, the new national law calls for the formation of (health insurance) Exchanges. The Health Connector’s tiering system, which offers consumers a choice of gold, silver or bronze coverage, was also adopted in a slightly expanded way. Like Massachusetts,the national law sets minimum coverage standards and will include benefits like elimination of pre-existing condition exclusions. A number of the benefits in the Massachusetts law are enhanced under national reform, most notably extension of subsidy assistance for individuals from 300 percent to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, extension of federally-subsidized coverage to legal immigrants and extension of insurance protections to self-funded private coverage."
Item No. 7 also touches another hot-button topic: the requirement in the law Romney signed that provides tax penalties for residents who are capable of buying insurance but fail to do so.
"The individual mandate has worked fairly and effectively to expand coverage in Massachusetts," says the fact sheet. "Some 97 percent of the taxpayers are complying with new health reform filing requirements. Furthermore, the Health Connector’s appeals process, which rules on hardship exceptions, has been fair to taxpayers, with a 60-percent approval rate for those who follow through with an appeal."
Powers said the poster was produced in-house, at no additional cost to the taxpayers. The two photos used, he said, came from annual progress reports about the state law.
"It wasn't meant to tweak anyone," said Powers. "One of the frustrating things about
sitting here is watching people on both the left and the right twist information to suit their ideological agenda. With bloggers taking a more active role, it's amazing how quickly bad information can and does spread. This is just our attempt to get the facts out there so the media and eventually their readers and listeners will have the correct facts. With federal reform under the microscope and a presidential election on the horizon, it's logical to assume that more eyes will be cast on what we're doing here."
Senator Scott Brown has been named the top Republican on a subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee
Working alongside Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, Brown will be his party's top representative on the Subcommittee on AirLand. He replaces John Thune, a South Dakota Republican who no longer serves on the committee.
Brown is one of three freshman Senators made ranking members of subcommittees, despite the fact that long-time senators serve on the committee. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire is ranking member of the Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee, and Rob Portman of Ohio is ranking member of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee
Brown's panel oversees Army and Air Force programs; Navy and Marine Corps tactical aviation programs; National Guard and Reserve equipment; and Army and Air Force research and development.
“As a 31-year member of the Massachusetts Army National Guard, I’m honored to be named ranking member of the Subcommittee on AirLand,” Brown said in a statement. “During my time on the Armed Services Committee, I’ve seen firsthand the incredible service and sacrifice our men and women in uniform make for our country. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address the security challenges facing the United States as well as our friends and allies around the world.”
In addition to the Armed Services Committee, Senator Brown serves on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
While other potential Republican presidential candidates tried to grab the spotlight this week with a series of insider announcements about new staff hires, Mitt Romney claimed substantive ground for himself with a wave of campaign donations and a potent Florida endorsement.
In a statement yesterday, Romney's Free and Strong America PAC announced he had sent out another wave of contributions to 45 Republicans in Congress.
All told, they received $93,000. That follows the $208,000 that Romney’s PAC has given to 90 US Senate and House Republicans since the start of the year.
“There are many important issues facing Congress and the nation," the former Massachusetts governor said in the statement. "By showing our support for Republican candidates who are fighting for conservative principles in Washington, we hope to influence the national debate on jobs, taxes, the economy, and the budget."
The statement came amid a week in which Romney visited Texas to meet with key financial and campaign backers, and then aimed to visit Florida to meet with Republican Governor Rick Scott. Romney had campaigned for him last fall.
Their meeting ended up cancelled because of flight delays for Romney, but he nonetheless received the endorsement of state Senator John Thrasher. The St. Augustine Republican is a former House speaker who most recently served as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.
“If Governor Romney decides to run for president in 2012, I will absolutely be supporting him and helping him in Florida,” Thrasher said an e-mail to Abel Harding, a columnist for The Florida Times-Union. “He would be a great GOP nominee.”
Due to population shifts, Florida will pick up two congressional seats and two Electoral College votes in the 2012 election. The state will also host the Republican National Convention, which is being held in Tampa.
Debate over a bill that would strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its power to regulate greenhouse gases turned into a rhetorical throwdown today over an issue that has become one of the fiercest political battlegrounds in Congress.
The meeting of the House Energy and Power Subcommittee was expected to be another angry confrontation between supporters of greenhouse gas regulations and climate change skeptics on the committee, and the members delivered.
Representative Edward J. Markey, a Malden Democrat, opened his comments by saying that he wouldn’t stand to deliver his comments “because I’m worried that the Republicans will overturn the law of gravity, sending us floating about the room.”
“Arbitrary rejection of scientific fact will not cause us to rise from our seats today. But with this bill, pollution levels will rise. Oil imports will rise. Temperatures will rise,” he said.
He closed with the procedural conclusion of yielding back his unused time, then added: “That is, unless a rejection of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity is somewhere in the chair’s amendment pile.”
Republicans on the committee who support the bill, the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, employed their own rhetorical flourishes in their condemnation of the EPA, which announced its plans to regulate greenhouse gases last year following a finding that the gases endanger the public.
“Today we take the first step to reassert legislative authority over EPA and to stop EPA’s effort to issue global warming regulations that would increase our electricity costs, our gasoline prices, send more jobs to china, and make America less competitive in the global marketplace,” said Ed Whitfield, a Kentucky Republican.
Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, called the legislation “the logical response to environmental overkill.”
“The EPA has been on a mission of political correctness and is trying to regulate something that shouldn’t be regulated,” he said.
Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, called the bill “extreme,” and said Republicans’ assertions that greenhouse gas regulation will inflate fuel prices “laughable.”
“History will not judge this committee kindly if we become the last bastion of the polluter and science denier when carbon emissions rise to record levels and our weather system goes hay-wire, the American people will ask why we acted so irresponsibly,” he said.
WASHINGTON — Six US senators, including Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown, today introduced legislation to revamp procedures for holding suspected terrorists, and to reaffirm the president’s constitutional authority to detain and prosecute suspects being held at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, according to a statement from Brown.
Brown will co-sponsor the Military Detainee Procedures Improvement Act of 2011 with Republican senators John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.
The legislation would require that captured members of al-Qaeda, the Taliban or affiliated terror groups be held in military custody, unless the secretary of defense orders the prisoners transferred to civilian custody. It would prohibit the appropriation of money for an alternative prison to Guantanamo on US soil. The measure would also require the secretary of defense to scrutinize the transfer of detainees to other countries, and would establish as the position of the Congress that alleged members of al-Qaeda and affiliated groups should be tried by military commissions.
“Terrorists should be detained at Guantanamo Bay, and tried according to the laws of military justice,” Brown said in a statement. “Terrorists should not be allowed to enjoy the rights and privileges protected by the U.S. Constitution. These are not common street criminals, they are terrorists who have one stated purpose: to kill Americans and our allies.”
Brown, a lieutenant colonel and 31 year member of the Massachusetts Army National Guard, will visit Guantanamo Bay for a briefing on the detainee facilities later this month, according to his office.
Attorney General Eric Holder is visiting Boston tonight to deliver the keynote address at the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association annual gala.
Former Senator Edward W. Brooke III is slated to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. Superior Court Justice Barbara Dortch-Okara and David Hall, president of the University of the Virgin Islands, are each being given the Trailblazer Award.
The dinner and awards ceremony takes place at the Boston Park Plaza & Towers, beginning at 6 p.m.
The Mashpee Wampanoag Indian tribe today announced that former US Representative William Delahunt will represent the group and its interests including its ongoing efforts to host casino gambling at the state and federal level.
Delahunt stepped down in January as 10th District congressman. Previously, the Quincy Democrat served as Norfolk district attorney.
He has had a long history of working with the Wampanoags and advocating on their behalf.
The tribe had long pushed for authority to build a casino on land in Middleborough. When that plan stalled, it pushed for legislation to build in Fall River. That subsequently stalled, too, and the tribe has been seeking alternate venues.
In a statement, Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell said hiring Delahunt was "a natural extension" of his advocacy.
“Our tribe was fortunate to have him as our congressman, and we are excited to have his voice and continued advocacy on our behalf,"Cromwell said.
Delahunt said: “The history of this tribe’s dealings with our government is replete with bureaucracy, impasse, inertia, and sometimes outright hostility. The tribe has rights as a sovereign nation, and more importantly, treating them with respect and helping them achieve self-sufficiency is simply the right thing to do. I am proud to represent them.”
During a career that has now spanned over 25 years, I've had a chance to meet and even work with several great and legendary political journalists, including R.W. "Johnny" Apple Jr. of The New York Times; Curtis Wilkie, Robert Healy, David Shribman, and Walter V. Robinson of The Boston Globe; Mary McGrory and David S. Broder of The Washington Post; and Walter R. Mears of The Associated Press.
The last two intersected in an infamous way, during the 1964 presidential campaign, when a group of reporters got to drinking before a late-evening Barry Goldwater speech.
Broder thought Mears had a few too many, so, ever the courtly mid-westerner, he decided to leave Mears a copy of his own story. His aim was to nudge his colleague along for early East Coast deadlines.
Instead, Mears banged out his own story, returned Broder's to him, and said in response, "David, I can write better drunk than you can sober."
But with Broder's death Wednesday at age 81, it's not journalism so much that prompted me to sit back down at my laptop after a long day in a new job.
It was to reflect on the uncommon decency displayed by a veteran worker for a newcomer in their shared profession. It's a lesson for everyone in every industry, and especially for me as I make the turn from the front- to back-nine of my career.
I can't believe I just wrote those words.
I graduated in 1985 from a small Wisconsin college, Lawrence University, and set out to build a career for myself in journalism. Having a father who was a stock broker and a mother who was a real estate agent, I had no real "in" with the profession, so I worked my way up the ladder.
My first full-time job was at the City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary news institution that spawned such legendary writers as novelist Kurt Vonnegut, columnist Mike Royko, and investigative reporter Seymour Hersh still going to this day.
I later moved from The Salem Evening News to The Sun of Lowell, where, in November 1990, I read a story in the Boston Sunday Globe recapping Broder's speech at Colby College. He had just received an honorary doctorate of laws and the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award.
I had long admired Broder and his reporting on and analysis of national politics, so much so that I subscribed to the Post's then-national weekly edition. It contained the best of the newspaper's stories from the prior week, as well as the columns of writers such as Broder.
"I realized that I have continuously looked to you for compass headings in my quest to be the most ethical and accurate newspaper reporter possible," I wrote in a Nov. 18, 1990, letter to Broder prompted by the story.
"For example, I have paid close attention to your warnings about crisscrossing the boundary between political insider and journalist," I added.
Noting how Broder encouraged all reporters to spend more time speaking with voters than campaign consultants, I felt inspired to ask Broder if I could come to Washington, work for him, and learn at the knee of the master.
"If you ever need a researcher or cohort to assist in the preparation of your column and articles, I hope you would consider me for that position," I wrote.
I sent the letter off, not really expecting a reply, battle-hardened from the challenge of breaking into the industry just five years earlier.
Yet several weeks later, a wide postcard arrived in the mail.
When I flipped it over, it was embossed with the name, "David S. Broder," and emblazoned with the Post's logo.
In between, in hand-typed lettering, Broder responded: "Dear Glen Johnson."
He thanked me for my note, resume, and sample newsclippings, and promptly said there were no researcher openings at the Post. But then, he went further.
"Your work reads to me as if you are past that point," Broder wrote. "You show a lot of skill and confidence in your reporting and I hope you'll let it carry you to the goals you seek, not step back into a researcher role."
He signed off with an affectionate "Yours," and used a pen to write, "David Broder."
Months later, lightning struck. At the height of President George H.W. Bush's popularity following Operating Desert Storm, a former US senator from the hometown of my small newspaper, Lowell's own Paul Tsongas, announced improbably that he'd challenge the incumbent president for re-election in 1992.
The Sun remains a relatively small paper, but it had a big heart, especially for the local story, so, by then as the Lowell city political reporter, the editor sent me out on the trail.
I filled one suitcase with my clothes, the other with a "library" of news clippings, notebooks, batteries, and acoustic couplers for my Radio Shack computer, as well as a copy of The Almanac of American Politics. I was a one-man show, but I got to work in proximity to some of the great or rising young political reporters of the time: Dan Balz of the Post, Cathleen Decker and Ronald Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times, Robin Toner and Richard Berke of The New York Times, and Wilkie himself.
I also was able to cross paths with Broder.
In April 1992, after Tsongas quit the race and "Comeback Kid" Bill Clinton was en route to the Democratic nomination and presidency, I wrote a thank-you note to Broder.
"I wanted to let you know that I enjoyed meeting you while I chased around Paul Tsongas for The Sun," I said.
By 1996, I was working for the AP in Boston and assigned to cover then-Governor William F. Weld's epic US Senate race against the Democratic incumbent, John Kerry. Clinton cruised to re-election against Bob Dole in a campaign that was largely a non-event.
By 2000, though, I had transferred to the AP's Washington bureau and landed a plum assignment covering the presidential campaign of then-Texas Governor George W. Bush in a wide-open race for the presidency. Mid-campaign, I joined the Globe, my hometown newspaper, and again ran into Broder on the trail.
Covering a presidential campaign is hard on everyone involved, from the candidate to the press corps to the legion of college kids who make everything work, from setting up events to unloading baggage from the charter jet.
I was amazed to see Broder, then 71, still schlepping along, listening to the candidate speeches, traipsing through Iowa and New Hampshire, and polishing gems gleaned from those voter conversations about which he always preached.
One day, in Florida as best I can remember it, I found myself trudging into a filing center behind none other than the Dean himself, David S. Broder.
There were plenty of tables at which to sit, but for a still-young political journalist, there was only one place to be.
I took the seat next to Broder.
We had chatted earlier in the trip, but as we sat next to each other and worked on our stories, he for the Post, me for the Globe, I recalled the history of our interaction, from my time in his native Chicago at the City News Bureau; to the days at The Sun as I chased after him and the other Boys on the Bus; to the present, when we together watched an election whose conclusion neither of us could have imagined at that moment.
I also remembered that everywhere I went that campaign, I carried a camera in a case affixed to my belt.
Aware of the preciousness of the moment, I pulled it out, passed it to anyone standing nearby, and asked them to take a picture of me and Broder.
Today, I remembered that picture, and flipped back through my Bush picture volume to find it.
The time-stamp on the back read, "2:49 p.m., Sept. 22, 2000."
At that moment, Broder was 71 and I was 37.
It was less than a year from Sept. 11, 2001, a day of infamy in American history, as well as the date on which Broder would mark his 72nd birthday.
It also was almost precisely a decade after I had written Broder that first letter, in which I sought to become his researcher and he pushed me to chase bigger goals, on my own.
Then, as now, another 10 years hence, I'm glad I followed his advice. And I have no doubt that in leaving this world, he'd hope that everyone follows his example as it comes time to send the next generation of workers on their way.
Senators John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat, and Mike Crapo, an Idaho Republican, today introduced legislation to help small brewers, by seeking to reduce beer excise taxes, Kerry’s office said in a statement.
The Brewer’s Employment and Excise Relief (BEER) Act will help create jobs at more than 1,600 small breweries nationwide, which collectively employ nearly 100,000 people, said Kerry. Massachusetts is home to approximately 38 small breweries, including Northampton Brewery, Haverhill Brewery, and Sam Adams, the country’s largest small brewery.
“The craft beer revolution started right here in Massachusetts and they’ve been going toe to toe with multi-national beer companies ever since,” said Kerry, in a statement. “This bill will help ensure that these small businesses keep people on the payroll and create jobs even during tight economic times.”
Currently, a small brewer that produces less than two million barrels of beer per year is eligible to pay $7.00 per barrel on the first 60,000 barrels produced each year. The legislation would reduce this rate to $3.50 per barrel, giving our nation's smallest brewers approximately $19.9 million per year to expand and generate jobs. This change helps approximately 1,525 breweries nationwide.
Under current law, once production exceeds 60,000 barrels, a small brewer must pay the same $18 per barrel excise tax rate that the largest brewer pays while producing more than 100 million barrels. The legislation would lower the tax rate to $16 per barrel on beer production above 60,000 barrels, up to two million barrels, providing small brewers with an additional $27.1 million per year, according to Kerry.
I'll always remember the night in 1994 I was at West Roxbury High School, covering a debate between the candidates for Suffolk County district attorney, and turned to see David Broder of The Washington Post sitting behind me, taking notes.
The dean of American political reporters who died earlier today at the age of 81 was in town for a debate the following night between Ted Kennedy and Mitt Romney, then locked in a memorable race for US Senate.
But in keeping with his great love of politics, when Broder read an interesting story about the local district attorney's race, he grabbed a notebook.
I introduced myself, and asked him what he was doing at such a minor-league event. He asked me how a black Republican like Ralph Martin could have any chance of winning a race in Suffolk County.
A week or so later, he wrote a column about black Republicans making inroads in local races, with Martin as the lead.
Broder, in fact, had a soft spot for high-spirited Massachusetts politics. He was known to appear at state conventions; he once explained to me that few states still have conventions like ours.
He thought they were fun, an opinion with which I've occasionally quibbled.
Broder had a deep belief in the wisdom of voters he was famous for pushing reporters to talk to fewer consultants and more voters and his longevity gave him a great sense of history.
After Mitt Romney won his party's gubernatorial nomination at the Republican State Convention in 2002, I asked the Dean to tell me about George Romney, Mitt's dad and the former governor of Michigan.
He obliged with an instant lecture on how the elder Romney, whom Broder considered a great governor, had transformed Michigan politics.
But I will remember most of all, was that, for him, Ralph Martin and Gerry Malone were just as interesting as Kennedy and Romney.
He was a reporter's reporter, and the legion who will miss him is vast.
Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
JERUSALEM – Governor Deval Patrick this morning began a series of meetings with top Israeli officials, including its prime minister, after being acknowledged from the floor of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.
Patrick is being accompanied on this leg of his visit by three members of his Cabinet, as well as Suffolk Construction chief John Fish and the most popular member of his entourage, Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots.
He is being followed by a camera crew for an NFL story.
Patrick met with Danny Ayalon, the deputy foreign minister, who also read a proclamation welcoming Patrick and the delegation to Israel, including “my very good friend, Robert “Bobby” Kraft.’’
The acknowledgement in the Israeli parliament was welcomed by Fish who called it “incredible, absolutely incredible’’ and by the governor. “It’s amazing to be acknowledged from the floor of the Knesset,’’ Patrick said.
The delegation was given a brief tour of exhibits in the building, viewing a replica of the Jewish state’s declaration of independence and large-wall tapestries painted by noted Jewish artist Marc Chagall depicting the past, present, and future of the Jewish people.
During the part of the meeting with Ayalon that was open to the press, Patrick talked about this key economic themes he has been drumming through this trade mission to Israel.
“We’ve covered a lot of ground in every sense of that term,’’ Patrick told Ayalon.
He said he told the deputy foreign minister that the business relationship between Massachusetts and Israel was already strong, but he added, “the more the better.’’
Kraft swiftly added in Hebrew, “More to come.’’
Later today, Patrick was meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli opposition figures.
Most those meetings were closed to the press.
WASHINGTON -- Senator John Kerry urged fellow senators today to swiftly confirm his former aide as deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, saying that the aide, Heather Higginbottom, "brings a very special understanding of the difficulties – the complexities – of public policy today and the tough choices that we face."
Higginbottom, who was nominated to the post by President Obama, worked for Kerry from 1999 to 2007 serving in various posts, including legislative director. She was deputy policy director for Obama's presidential campaign, and since 2008 she has been deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of Obama's Domestic Policy Council.
“Neither Washington nor the West Wing has dampened Heather’s idealism or spirit of service – she’s smarter, tougher, more steeped in all the issues and more versed in the many challenges facing every state that makes up the mosaic of our country, but in every way that adds up to character," Kerry said at a confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill today. "Heather is still the person that walked into my office for that first day of work as a legislative assistant in 1999, and that too is a reason why I am proud to recommend her swift confirmation as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.”
Higginbottom was deputy director of national policy for Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign, and Kerry said he feels a "special bond" with her.
"Her parents, George and Anne, are not here today but they live up on Cape Cod in Yarmouth Port, and I think because of the last minute changes they were not able to be down here. I’m sort of a surrogate in that sense," he said.
The leaders of the Senate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Chairman Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Ranking Minority Member Susan Collins of Maine questioned Higginbottom during the confirmation hearing, with Lieberman warning her that the deputy budget director's post is "one of the nation’s more challenging jobs at this moment in our nation’s governance and economic history," and Collins probing her experience.
"The nominee’s background, while impressive in many respects, does not include a great deal of experience in the budget process or financial analysis which is so important given the fiscal challenges we face," Collins said.
Kerry said that Higginbottom "understands that the budget is a statement of priorities, for the country, and certainly for the President who puts it in."
"When she looks at a budget, she knows the numbers, she understand the choices we’ve got to face today," he said.
Lieberman said he hoped to move Higginbottom's confirmation process forward in the next few weeks.
Donovan Slack can be reached at email@example.com.
The nation’s No. 1 basketball fan met the team the Boston area hopes will be the nation’s No. 1 NBA franchise this year.
When President Obama visited the Museum of Fine Arts for a fundraiser this evening, he had a private meeting with members of the Boston Celtics.
Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and coach Doc Rivers were among those who talked hoops with Obama, a southpaw who maintains an active game and has his own court in the White House backyard. A notable absence was center Shaquille O'Neal.
The meeting was organized by two of the team’s co-owners, Jonathan Lavine and Stephen Pagliuca. Lavine is a managing director at Bain Capital, and Pagliuca tried his hand at party politics when he ran in the Democratic primary for last year's Massachusetts US Senate special election.
Several team members turned out for one of his fundraisers, too.
Lavine and Pagliuca also arranged for the Celtics to mingle with the crowd at the fundraiser, which is expected to raise $1 million for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. It’s the body charged with helping the Democrats regain the majority in the US House of Representatives in 2012.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Representative Steve Israel of New York, the committee’s chairman, and members of the Massachusetts House delegation were slated to attend, as well.
It’s something of a sports week for the president: not only is it conference championship week for NCAA teams, and “Selection Sunday” this weekend for teams entering the NCAA men’s basketball tourney, but Obama is also welcoming his hometown Chicago Blackhawks to the White House.
The squad won hockey's NHL Stanley Cup last year.
We used this live blog and tweets @globeglen to provide up-to-the-minute updates about President Obama's visit to TechBoston Academy in Dorchester.
4:06 p.m. - The president just wrapped up. No real rising close, no real oomph. But the kids are still thrilled he came.
4:04 p.m. - This has to be the most pastoral presidential event I have ever covered. Very sober atmosphere, very respectful crowd, very solemn president, despite his jokes.
4:02 p.m. - Obama concedes it will "cost money" to make changes he's proposed, but he immediately segues to budget cuts he has offered as means to support the education programs for which he wants to pay.
"We cannot cut back on job-creating investments, like education," he said. "There's nothing responsible about cutting back in our investment in these young people."
3:57 p.m. - Instead of pouring money "into a broken system," president says, Arne Duncan has launched "Race to the Top," which draws applause. Says if states show good programs, "we'll show you the money."
3:55 p.m. - Students answer with slow "y-e-e-s-s-s" when Obama asks if they come from tough neighborhoods. But then he notes their high achievement rates.
3:53 p.m. - Obama notes each student here gets laptop upon enrolling. They then have to take care of it, and use it to take core math and other classes, including forensic science. President jokes he's not even sure what that is.
3:50 p.m. - President laments USA falling to ninth in nations in terms of proportion with college degree. It used to be first.
3:47 p.m. - Cheer as president explains he came to TechBoston because "you are model of how it's done" for rest of country.
3:45 p.m. - Obama recalls time at Harvard Law and how Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard. Then he started a "modest" computer software company. When kids didn't laugh, president reminded them it was a joke. They laughed at that.
3:43 p.m. - Shriek from students as Obama takes stage.
3:39 p.m. - Melinda Gates says she and "Bill," as in Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, are happy they invested in school nearly a decade ago.
She is recalling excitement among students they just meant at knowing where they are going: to college.
3:37 p.m. - Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Melinda Gates are announced to stage. She is speaking first.
3:34 p.m. - They just announced "the event will begin momentarily."
3:28 p.m. - The president is running more than 15 minutes behind schedule, allowing the Boston city councilors in the room to work the crowd for votes.
Newton Mayor Setti Warren, a potential US Senate candidate, is also in the audience.
3:05 p.m. - Rotor noises above from a State Police helicopter signal the motorcade's arrival at TechBoston. The president was touring a classroom and meeting some students before speaking in the gym.
Former Boston newswoman Rehema Ellis is on-hand to live shots for MSNBC.
2:46 p.m. - There's a lull in the activities as the president tours the school and the audience waits in the gynmasium. It's a relatively small crowd in here, very controlled, unlike more rambunctious campaign events. Still, all the guests appear excited.
2:36 p.m. - HE must almost be here... presidential seal attached to "blue goose" armored presidential lectern.
2:34 p.m. - Two students just led Pledge of Allegiance and did heartfelt rendition of national anthem that left their classmates cheering. Then they hugged each other with ear-to-ear smiles. Nice start.
2:30 p.m. - TechBoston Academy JROTC color guard bringing in American flag.
2:23 p.m. - Inside TechBoston Academy, people being asked to take their seats. Behind podium, banner reads, "Winning the Future," the president's forward-looking slogan since State of the Union. Presidential seal, always a last-minute addition, still not affixed to podium.
President Obama today is following the lead of other Democrats who view Massachusetts as a campaign finance ATM, yet he's hoping the focus will instead be drawn to a high-profile visit he's making to a Boston school.
Joined by Education Secretary Arne Duncan and philanthropist Melinda Gates, the president will tour and then speak at TechBoston Academy in Dorchester. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided some of the funding to found the school in September 2002.
Obama will echo his State of the Union speech, as well as a visit he made last week to a rebounding Florida school, as he argues government, businesses, philanthropists, educators, and local communities have to jointly promote innovative education strategies that prepare American students to in his vernacular "win the future."
“There is no better economic policy than one that produces more graduates," said an excerpt of Obama's prepared text. “That’s why reforming education is the responsibility of every American every parent, every teacher, every business leader, every public official, and every student.”
Obama's 2012 budget calls for $90 million in funding for the creation of a new grant competition called the "Advanced Research Projects Agency Education" (ARPA-ED).
Groups would compete to create breakthroughs in using technology to empower learning and teaching.
The budget also calls for extending the "Investing in Innovation" (i3) program with a $300 million competition with a priority for projects in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Despite being considered hospitable Democratic territory, the president was being greeted by a protest organized by some of his fellow Democrats.
Former Representative Joseph P. Kennedy II, along with current Representatives Edward J. Markey, Michael Capuano, and James McGovern, called a news conference to protest the administration's proposed cut in the LIHEAP program.
It provides assistance to people who cannot afford their heating bills.
LIHEAP currently receives $5.1 billion under the federal budget; the president has proposed cutting it by $2.5 billion.
After the events at TechBoston Academy, Obama was traveling across town to the newly refurbished Museum of Fine Arts for the fundraiser.
In an e-mail soliciting contributions, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi labeled the gathering as "an unforgettable evening with President Obama and leading Democrats from across America."
She added: "It is critical that we show the world how strongly we support President Obama's bold vision to encourage innovation and invest in America's future."
One of Obama's prime boosters in the area, Governor Deval Patrick, is missing the events because he is in Israel at the outset of a trade mission.
He and Obama share the same political advisers, and Patrick is gearing up to serve as a surrogate speaker for the president's re-election campaign next year.
TEL AVIV - Governor Deval Patrick earned a mention in the Jerusalem Post this morning as part of the “Kraft delegation” to Israel.
The article appeared in the English-language newspaper’s sports section, under
the headline, “Krafts join Mass. Governor on Israel mission.”
The article was about the New England Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, a frequent visitor and large investor in the country, and his wife, Myra, a major philanthropist in Israel.
Patrick has not been a high-profile visitor to the general public so far, though he has appeared in two business publications to which he gave interviews in advance of his trips. He is likely to get at least a mention in the popular press later in the week, after he meets with top Israeli government officials.
The Post article about the Krafts focused on a planned visit by the Massachusetts trade delegation on Thursday to the Kraft Family Stadium, a venue supported by the family that has introduced American-style football to Israel.
Robert Kraft is not the only Patriots-related person with a high profile in Israel. On Monday night, a woman in a café was feverishly searching her laptop for pictures of Tom Brady’s wife, Gisele Bundchen.
The couple is in her native Brazil for Carnival, and she was pictured yesterday atop a parade float.
Robert Kraft is in Israel on two simultaneous missions, one with Patrick and another with Combined Jewish Philanthropies. He said Monday he may have to leave early if he is needed to help resolve a National Football League labor dispute threatening to disrupt the upcoming season. Kraft and his fellow owners are threatening to lock out the players unless they agree to concessions.
“We’re on the phone daily, e-mail daily, and, if necessary, I might have to leave early,” he said. “It’s a high priority. I made a commitment here, so we’re going to finish the important things we’re doing here.”
He added: “It’s unfortunate. It was supposed to be settled by now. That’s how we planned
What would prompt an early departure?
“The commissioner of the NFL telling me he’d appreciate my presence, but I for sure will be here until Thursday," said Kraft.
Kraft said the deal was important not only for fans, but also for people whose jobs depend on a thriving league.
“That’s so important to so many people in America,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to try get a deal consummated, but I personally believe it’s possible," he said.
Governor Deval Patrick today concluded a busy kickoff to his trade mission to Israel and the United Kingdom by announcing fresh support for a state-based global competition for new start-up companies.
The Democrat pledged to invest $1 million during the next four years in MassChallenge, a program seeking to identify promising entrepreneurs around the world.
He made the announcement during a teleconference between Cisco offices in Boston and Netanya, Israel.
"We have the brainpower. We have the venture capital. We have a concentration of talent, a well-educated workforce and we have a tradition of invention that goes back centuries," Patrick said.
Organizers say MassChallenge has received more than 440 entries and identified 111 start-ups that received three months of free training, mentoring, and office space on the city's Fan Pier.
Earlier in the day, Patrick met with Major General Eliezer Shkedi, chief executive of El Al Airlines, with whom he sought nonstop flights between Boston and Tel Aviv. He argued the state has the fourth-largest Jewish community in the country, allowing it to compete with Chicago and Miami, which also are seeking flights.
The governor also met with Avi Hasson, Israel's chief scientist. The trip is focused on biotechnology and other state-based science companies.
A planned meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres was postponed until Thursday, a gubernatorial spokeswoman said.
The 10-day trade mission, which will also visit England, is being paid for primarily with private and campaign funds.
Material from The Associated Press was used in this post.