Mitt Romney shrugs off Newsweek's 'wimp' cover

Mitt Romney is not concerned about being called a “wimp” on a Newsweek cover that will hit the newsstands on Monday.

“If I worried about what the media said I wouldn’t get much sleep, ” said the presumptive Republican nominee in an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation” in Jerusalem on Sunday. “And I’m able to sleep pretty well.”

The upcoming Newsweek cover’s headline is “Romney: The Wimp Factor, ” with smaller text below that asks: “Is he just too insecure to be president?”

The former Massachusetts governor argued that Newsweek tried the same attack on President George H. W. Bush when he was running for president the first time. A 1987 Newsweek profile of then-Vice President Bush was titled “Fighting the ‘Wimp Factor.'”

“He was a pretty great president and anything but, ” said Mr. Romney, adding that the Newsweek cover is the first time he recalls being called a wimp.

When asked if he believed foreign policy to be his weakest area, Mr. Romney used Ronald Reagan as an example of a former governor who became a successful commander-in-chief.

“I would say that foreign policy is a place where intelligence, resolve, clarity and confidence in cause is of extraordinary importance,” he said. “Ronald Reagan was one of our great foreign policy presidents. He did not come from the Senate, he did not come from the foreign policy world; he was a governor. But his resolve, his clarity of purpose, his intelligence, his capacity to deal with complex issues and solve tough problems served him extremely well and if I were elected president, I hope I could rely upon those same qualities.”

During the interview, the Republican candidate also reaffirmed his support for Israel.

“I respect the right of Israel to defend itself,” Mr. Romney said. “We stand with Israel. We’re two nations that come together in peace and we want to see Iran dissuaded from its nuclear folly.”

The presidential candidate argued that Iran is America’s biggest national security threat.

“Iran’s nuclearization is the greatest single national security threat America faces. That’s of great concern to me,” he said in the interview. “And all our efforts should be focused on making that our first priority.”

Mr. Romney is in Israel as part of a three country international tour designed to introduce him to the international community. During his trip he is meeting with Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.





Eric Cantor defends Michele Bachmann: She's concerned with U.S. security

House Minority Leader Eric Cantor broke ranks with top Republicans Thursday, defending Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s questioning of a top Hillary Clinton aide’s loyalty to the United States, saying the Minnesota lawmaker’s “concern was about the security of the country.”

Speaking Thursday, the Virginia Republican refused to criticize Ms. Bachmann’s comments, saying that Minnesota Republican was simply attempting to protect the U.S., rather than stoke fear.

”I think that if you read some of the reports that have covered the story, I think that her concern was about the security of the country,” said Mr. Cantor.

“I feel very strongly about the fact that we are a nation of inclusion. We’re built on the waves of immigrants that have come to these shores. I myself am a member of a minority faith and have enjoyed the ability to pursue and practice that faith unlike I could anywhere else in the world,” the Virginia Republican added.

“It’s a bad thing to look at a Muslim and think bad things. Again, we’re all Americans here, and we share beliefs in freedom and the ability to practice our faiths,” the majority leader said.

The Virginia Republican comment on the  issue comes as individuals and groups are speaking out against Mr. Bachmann and four other Republican members of Congress who sent letters last month asking government agencies to investigate a possible Muslim Brotherhood infiltration. The four members of Congress suggested an investigation into the possibility that top State Department official Huma Abedin and other American officials are using their influence to promote the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S. and Islamist causes interested in attacking the U.S. Ms. Abedin is a senior State Department staffer, a close confidante of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s, and the wife of ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner.

Those letters received near universal condemnation, including criticism from top Republican members. Speaking at the time, Arizona U.S. Senator John McCain said the letters  were “an unwarranted and unfounded attack,” while House Speaker John Boehner called the accusations “pretty dangerous.”


Romney reveals secret meeting with MI6, British press slams him

It’s the latest gaffe for presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who is facing criticism over a recent comment in which he revealed meeting with British intelligence officials.

Speaking Thursday, Mr. Romney commented on a private meeting at MI6, the British intelligence agency, saying the meeting went well and that discussions over foreign policy issues in Syria were discussed.

“I can only say that I appreciated the insights and perspectives of the leaders of the government here and opposition here as well as the head of MI6 as we discussed Syria and the hope for a more peaceful future for that country,” Romney said during a press conference Thursday.

“I appreciated the insights and perspectives of the leaders of the government here and opposition here as well as the head of MI6,” Mr. Romney continued. “We discussed Syria and the hope for a more peaceful future for that country.”

The comment has caused an uproar in the British press, which has skewered the former Massachusetts governor for revealing the meeting.  Asked for comment, MI6 did not specifically acknowledge a meeting between Mr. Romney and MI6 director Sir John Sawers.

“Sir John Sawers meets many people, but we don’t give a running commentary on any of these private meetings,” the agency said in a statement.

Mr. Romney, who is embarking on his first trip abroad since clinching the Republican nomination, has already committed a number of flubs that seems to have stoked the ire of the British press. Speaking Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid slammed Mr. Romney, saying the Massachusetts Republican was damaging the U.S. brand.

“It’s not good for us as a country — it’s not good for him — but as a country to have somebody that’s nominated by one of the principal parties to go over and insult everybody,” the Nevada Democrat told the Huffington Post.


Newt Gingrich: Condoleezza Rice's pro-choice stance is not a disqualifier

This article was updated at 1:00 a.m. EDT with additional insight on the likelihood of Condoleezza Rice becoming the Republican VP candidate.

Former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich believes former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s pro-choice stance should not disqualify her from VP consideration.

The former House speaker told Politico that Mrs. Rice is “mildly pro-choice, ” and that her views on abortion should not remove her from the short list of vice presidential running mates for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

“They’ve apparently had very serious conversations about Secretary Rice, ” said Mr. Gingrich during an interview on “Politico Live: Driving The Day” on Tuesday.

Mr. Gingrich compared Mrs. Rice’s pro-choice stance to former Republican President George H.W. Bush, who he said remained “vague” on the issue from the time when he was a vice presidential candidate in 1980 and throughout his presidency.

“We’d have to work out what the term ‘mildly pro-choice’ meant … As George H.W. Bush once said, he was for the Republican platform. That got him the vice presidential nomination in 1980,” said Mr. Gingrich.

One of Mr. Gingrich’s Republican primary rivals, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum disagrees. After Ms. Rice emerged as a possible VP candidate for Mr. Romney in recent weeks, Mr. Santorum said that her pro-choice views disqualify her from running on a conservative ticket in 2012.

“Then that’s a challenge. Because I think it’s very unlikely that you’re going to see the risk of a right-to-life rebellion at a right-to-life convention,” said Mr. Gingrich in response to Mr. Santorum’s comments.

“Condi Rice is very smart: Certainly in foreign policy terms and national security terms, she’s as smart as anyone in the country,” added the former House speaker.

A recent Fox News poll shows that the majority of Americans agree with Mr. Gingrich, as the poll resulted in 30 percent of voters nationwide favoring Ms. Rice as Mr. Romney’s vice presidential running mate. In the same poll, Florida Senator Marco Rubio finished in second place with 19 percent of the votes, while New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan finishing in third place with eight percent of the votes each.

Mr. Gingrich also mentioned Ohio Senator Rob Portman, New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayote and Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell as possible VP picks for Mr. Romney, and warned that the Bain Capital co-founder needs to select a running mate who has held a top public office in the past.

“Domestic politics is a different minefield. Picking anybody who has not run for something fairly big, I think is a real challenge. Because the minute you guys get ahold of ‘em, there’s gonna be two weeks of unending agony as you find things they never even knew existed,” said Mr. Gingrich.

Mr. Romney is unlikely to select Ms. Rise as his running mate because the former Bush administration official has made it clear that she’s not interested in politics.



Sarah Palin reenters the political scene with new endorsement

This article was updated at 8:20 a.m. EDT to include a statement from the Carmona campaign.

Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is making her presence known in the 2012 election, offering her endorsement of Republican Congressman Jeff Flake of Arizona.

In statement released by the Flake campaign, Ms. Palin praised the U.S. Senate candidate, saying Republican voters should support the Arizona Republican’s bid.

“The United States Senate needs a leader like Jeff Flake,” Ms. Palin said. “Jeff is a proven conservative crusader, and today I am proud to announce my support for his campaign to become the next U.S. Senator from the great state of Arizona.”

“Throughout his tenure in Congress, Jeff has been a consistent leader against the federal government’s out of control spending,” she continued. “Jeff is known for his media releases titled ‘Just How Broke Are We?’ where he brings home the reality of what our unimaginable $15 trillion debt really means in everyday terms.”

The former Alaska governor, who has largely remained on the sidelines of the 2012 election, said the Arizona Republican would continue the conservative fight against earmarks and government spending.

“Credited by many as the leading anti-earmark crusader in the House, Jeff has fought hard against pork barrel spending—often times casting one of the few GOP ‘no’ votes on bloated spending measures,” wrote Ms. Palin. “He’s not afraid to ‘go rogue’ against his own party and its leadership; and even though he has sometimes suffered the consequences from GOP leaders for failing to toe the party line, yet he continues to fight for what is right.”

Ms. Palin’s endorsement comes as Mr. Flake and his likely Democratic challenger, Richard Carmona, remain engaged in a tight race for the U.S. Senate seat. The Arizona Republican is expected to enter the Arizona general election race with a built-in advantage due to the nearly 183,000 more registered Republican voters than Democrats in the state.


In a statement released Monday, the Carmona campaign said Ms. Palin’s endorsement was a sign of establishment backing for Mr. Flake.

“This endorsement shows Congressman Flake is hitting the panic button in a primary he used to lead by 50 points,” said Carmona spokesman Andy Barr. “Sarah Palin once railed against the good old boy network in Washington — and yet she just endorsed a career politician and lobbyist who ‘lied’ about his term limits pledge, has used campaign contributions to pay himself $90,000 and was a registered foreign agent for a uranium mine partially owned by Iran.”

Ms. Palin is still waiting for an invitation to the Republican National Convention. In an email to Newsweek, the former reality TV star opined that Mitt Romney may be punishing her for criticizing both sides of the aisle.

“I’m sure I’m not the only one accepting consequences for calling out both sides of the aisle for spending too much money, putting us on the road to bankruptcy, and engaging in crony capitalism,” Ms. Palin said.


Report: Anthony Weiner's wife receives police protection

The New York Post reports that Huma Abedin, the deputy chief of staff and aide to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has been placed under police protection after a New Jersey man reportedly threatened her.

Police are not currently releasing the name or identity of the man, but according to the Post he is Muslim and a resident of New Jersey. The man has been questioned by both the New York Police Department and by the State Department, but has not yet been charged with any crime or wrongdoing.

Mrs. Abedin is the wife of ex-New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, and made headlines recently after Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann and several fellow House Republican lawmakers accused her family of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. In an open letter, the lawmakers claim that the Muslim Brotherhood is using Mrs. Abedin to influence U.S. policy from within the federal government by creating “a fundamental misunderstanding of the Muslim Brotherhood by U.S. intelligence – which could, in turn, have contributed to the policy community’s susceptibility to subversion at the hands of the Brothers and their allies.”

The claims by Ms. Bachmann have been dismissed as unfair accusations by House Speaker John Boehner and Arizona Senator John McCain.

“The letter and the report offer not one instance of an action, a decision, or a public position that Huma has taken while at the State Department that would lend credence to the charge that she is promoting anti-American activities within our government.  Nor does either document offer any evidence of a direct impact that Huma may have had on one of the U.S. policies with which the authors of the letter and the producers of the report find fault.  These sinister accusations rest solely on a few unspecified and unsubstantiated associations of members of Huma’s family, none of which have been shown to harm or threaten the United States in any way,” said Mr. McCain last week.

Mrs. Abedin still has not publicly commented on the accusation or on the New Jersey man’s alleged threats against her.

According to Slate, a leader from the Muslim Brotherhood recently responded to Ms. Bachmann’s claim that Mrs. Abedin has ties to the organization.

“I haven’t heard these rumors, but they strike me as ridiculous. Surely, the United States government selects its employees very carefully,” said the organization’s leader.

Secretary Clinton has not commented on the threats against Mrs. Abedin.




Ron Paul considers opposing Mitt Romney for president

This article was updated at 22:08 EST to include information regarding Mr. Paul’s 2008 campaign and the Republican presidential convention Minnesota.

Texas congressman and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul is continues his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, despite all indications that he will lose to his Republican rival, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Speaking last week, Mr. Paul, who remains in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, said he has yet to make a decision concerning whether he will endorse the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, only saying that he is considering his possibilities.

“I have not made a decision” about backing Mr. Romney, the Texas Republican said in an interview with Fox Business News.

The Texas Republican has yet to receive a speaking slot at the upcoming Republican convention. In a statement released by the Paul campaign, the Texas congressman welcomed  Republican National Committee (RNC) efforts to address his supporters, who are expected to attend the convention. The Paul campaign and the RNC have reportedly been working closely over the past few months to work out logistics in order to include the Texas congressman and his supporters in the August convention in Tampa.


“They’ve just treated us like a friend and like a coalition,” said Jesse Benton, a spokesman for the Paul campaign. “They have been honest brokers in working with us and treated us with respect.”

While Mr. Paul technically remains in the race for the 2012 nomination, the Texas congressman announced in May that he would stop campaigning in primary states. Since then, his supporters have failed to reach the delegate threshold necessary to make him eligible for the Republican presidential nomination at the party’s national convention, effectively eliminating any chance Mr. Paul has of defeating Mr. Romney.

Still, the Paul campaign has repeatedly advocated for supporters to continue to press on. Speaking Saturday, Mr. Benton said supporters of Mr. Paul have  matured enough to remain relevant in the general election. For instance, the congressman said in June that he expects to have about 500 delegates and alternates in the convention hall out of the total of about 4,400. The Paul campaign said support from Republican voters is an indication that the Texas Republican’s campaign remains credible.

“Our success brings us some clout,” said Mr. Benton, adding that he expects a deal to be reach with the RNC that includes allowing supporters to attend the event.

The 2012 developments represent a major turn of events for the Texas Republican. During the 2008 GOP convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Mr. Paul was largely ignored by planners and ended up holding a counter-rally with supporters. But this year, deference to the Paul campaign began early.

Already the Texas Republican has announced a major campaign-style rally ahead of the August convention. The event will take place at noon on Sunday, August 26th at the University of South Florida’s 11,000-seat Sun Dome., according to the Paul campaign, and the rally has the approval of the Republican National Committee.

Mr. Paul’s latest comment comes as his son, Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul, urged his father’s supporters to continue their fight for libertarian principle and causes. Speaking earlier this week, the younger Paul said supporters should not view a defeat at the August convention as an end point, but rather as the latest step in a long term fight.

“I think there will be a long lasting influence,” said the younger Paul, “I think he has encouraged a lot of people to participate, and what I keep telling them is don’t give up on the party because the Democratic Party has a lot of different interests and they all stay in the Democratic Party and I think they have influence.”


Tea Party: We're being marginalized

Tea party leaders are tired of accusations that falsely link them to acts of mass violence, reports POLITICO.

Early Friday morning, in the midst of covering the tragic shooting at a Colorado movie theater, ABC News chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross reported that the shooting suspect James Holmes might be connected with the Colorado Tea Party Patriots. Besides the two men sharing the same name, Mr. Ross did not have evidence that they were the same person. His report turned out to be incorrect, and ABC apologized in a statement on Friday afternoon.

“An earlier ABC News broadcast report suggested that a Jim Holmes of a Colorado Tea Party organization might be the suspect, but that report was incorrect. ABC News and Brian Ross apologize for the mistake, and for disseminating that information before it was properly vetted,” read the statement.

This isn’t the first time that the tea party has been incorrectly tied to a mass shooting. Many speculated that the political movement was at least partly to blame for the shooting of Rep. Gabrelle Giffords and the deaths of six others in a Tucson grocery store parking lot in January of 2011. Tea party members were fingered as possible suspects and the party was forced to defend themselves against the assumption that they were somehow linked to the shooting.

Tea party leaders see the inaccurate report by ABC News in their coverage of the Colorado shooting as just another example of the media’s attempts to demonize the movement.

“It truly is not only ridiculous, but it’s irresponsible,” Lu Ann Busse, a former tea party leader who is now running for a seat in the Colorado House, told POLITICO. “Why would you even say that without the information? People need to not start making accusations, making speculation, that’s just designed to inflame people.”

Even if and when the media retracts their inaccurate reporting, says Busse, the damage to the tea party’s reputation is already done.

“There’s been repeated incidents where people have an agenda to demonize a certain segment of the population, whether it be the tea party or similar groups,” Busse said. “They try to use everything to demonize and marginalize us, and I think it’s totally irresponsible and not the way people should act.”

Trent Humphries was president of Tucson’s tea party organization during the Giffords shootings and remembers how the press compounded the tragedy. Two of the people who were shot were his neighbors and he did not appreciate the media’s focus on politics.

“They were friends, it wasn’t a political thing for me,” he said. “But my family received death threats, we had sheriffs’ cars outside, because of stupid comments made … in the press.



Bloomberg: Gohmert shooting comment 'does not make any sense'‎

In response to the horrific tragedy that occurred early Friday in Aurora, Colorado, where a shooter opened fire in a movie theater and killed 12 people and injured several more, politicians are bringing the deeply divisive debate over how to reduce gun violence to the forefront of the national agenda.

On Friday afternoon, in contemplating what could have been done to stop the shooter, Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert said Friday that the tragedy made him “wonder” whether an armed moviegoer “could have stopped this guy more quickly.” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg responded to the comment, saying it was “one of the more nonsensical things you can say.”

“You know, to arm everybody and have the Wild West all the time is one of the more nonsensical things you can say,” Mayor Bloomberg said, according to an excerpt released by CBS. “I don’t know what [Gohmert’s] motives are, I don’t know him and I’m not here to impugn him or anybody else. It just does not make any sense. The bottom line is if we had fewer guns, we would have a lot fewer murders.”

The alleged shooter allegedly used an assault rifle, a shotgun, and a handgun.  A report from the New York Times speculates that the weapons he obtained were probably legal for him to possess under Colorado’s gun laws.

Notably, state gun laws typically treat types of firearms differently, and there are separate laws governing firearm sales, possession, and the right to carry a concealed weapon.

Representative Gohmert’s remarks referred to the use of concealed handguns by citizens with permits.  He recalled a woman in Killeen, Texas, who did not have a permit to carry a concealed weapon because it happened before Texas issued concealed carry permits, and so she left her weapon in the car on the day she entered a restaurant where a gunman shot several people.

After the interviewer noted that Colorado has concealed carry permits, Mr. Gohmert responded with his story that upset Mayor Bloomberg.

He said: “It does make me wonder, you know, with all those people in the theatre, was there nobody that was carrying? That could have stopped this guy more quickly? I mean, in Tyler Texas, we had, in my hometown, we had a shooter come in over a domestic matter and just start shooting people, and it was a guy with a concealed carry (who stopped the shooter). He got killed, but his shooting at this guy caused him to run and no doubt saved a lot of lives. He was a real hero.”

Mr. Bloomberg responded to these remarks saying:”Do you really think that you’d be safe if anyone in the audience could pull out a gun and start shooting? I don’t think so.”

To legally carry a concealed handgun in Texas, a person must first obtain a concealed handgun license, which requires the applicant to go through a background check, take firearm safety classes and pass practical and written tests.  New York gun laws also allow citizens to possess and carry concealed handguns with a license.

In an interview on WOR Radio on Friday, Mr. Bloomberg implied that he wants each of the presidential candidates to offer a plan to reduce the prevalence of firearms in response to the mass murder in Colorado.

“Soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it,” he said.

“I don’t think there’s any other developed country in the world that has remotely the problem we have,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “We have more guns than people in this country.”


John Boehner goes after Michele Bachmann: Accusations are 'pretty dangerous'

House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday slammed reports of State Department official Huma Abedin and her family being connected to a faction of the Muslim Brotherhood that is conspiring to infiltrate the U.S. government.

The Ohio Republican responded to accusations against Mrs. Abedin, who is Saudi Arabian and Muslim, from fellow House Republicans who released an open letter claiming that her family is connected to the Muslim brotherhood. Mrs. Abedin is the senior aide and deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton, and is married to ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner.

“I don’t know Huma. But from everything that I do know of her, she has a sterling character, and I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous,” said Mr. Boehner on Thursday in an interview with reporters.

Mr. Boehner’s comments come following a letter signed by Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann and four other House Republicans, including Arizona Congressman Trent Franks, Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert, Florida Congressman Tom Rooney and Georgia Congressman Lynn Westmoreland.

The accusations seemingly came out of nowhere and the swift response from Mr. Boehner provides a Republican perspective on the accusations, a month after his fellow House Republicans sent the letter attacking Mrs. Abedin to the State Department inspector general.

“The Department’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Huma Abedin, has three family members – her late father, her mother and her brother – connected to the Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations. Her position affords her routine access to the Secretary and to policy-making,” writes Mrs. Bachmann and her fellow Republicans in the letter.

Mrs. Bachmann has a history of attacking Muslims, and categorizing Muslim terrorists as the biggest foreign threat to American national security interests. The accusation against Mrs. Abedin seemingly came out of nowhere, although the Minnesota lawmaker claims to have substantial evidence to back her claims.

Another prominent Republican, Arizona Senator John McCain had similar comments to Mr. Boehner’s response to the accusations against Mrs. Abedin. Mr. McCain has been the subject of similar criticism, as he was accused of fathering a child out of wedlock during the 2000 presidential election.

“These allegations about Huma, and the report from which they are drawn, are nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable woman, a dedicated American, and a loyal public servant,” Mr. McCain said.

“When anyone, not least a member of Congress, launches specious and degrading attacks against fellow Americans on the basis of nothing more than fear of who they are and ignorance of what they stand for, it defames the spirit of our nation, and we all grow poorer because of it,” the Arizona Republican added.

Neither Mrs. Abedin or Secretary Clinton has responded to the claims, or to Mr. Boehner’s comments.