Dems cancel convention kickoff at Charlotte Motor Speedway
While the Democrats will receive a $50 million grant to defray police costs for the Sept. 4-6 convention, security for the Speedway festival may not have been eligible because it isn't part of the official proceedings.
WASHINGTON — Democrats have canceled a political-convention kickoff event at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and will move the activities to Charlotte's main business district, the convention's host committee announced Tuesday.
"While we regret having to move CarolinaFest away from our great partners at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and the City of Concord, we are thrilled with the opportunity that comes with hosting this event in Uptown Charlotte," said Dan Murrey, executive director of committee.
The move comes as party planners are grappling with a fundraising deficit of roughly $27 million, according to two people familiar with the matter who requested anonymity to discuss internal party politics. With a party ban on direct contributions from corporations, the Charlotte in 2012 Convention Host Committee has raised less than $10 million, well short of its $36.6 million goal, one of them said.
While the Democrats will receive a $50 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security to defray police costs for the Sept. 4-6 convention, security for the Speedway festival may not have been eligible because it isn't part of the official proceedings.
Republicans also will receive a $50 million grant for their convention in Tampa, Fla., Aug. 27-30.
Also Tuesday, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, one of the most vulnerable Democrats up for re-election in 2012, said she plans to skip the convention. She joined a growing list of Democrats in conservative areas who have decided not to attend. McCaskill said her decision was not about avoiding President Obama. Missouri was one of the few swing states that Obama did not win in 2008.
Hatch turns back
SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Orrin Hatch won the GOP primary in Utah on Tuesday, handily turning back a challenge from tea-party forces hoping to jolt the Republican Party again by defeating an incumbent who occasionally strayed from the movement's focus on shrinking the federal government.
Until this summer, Hatch, 78, had not faced a primary challenge since winning office in 1976. Former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist won just enough support at the state GOP's nominating convention to advance to the primary.
But Liljenquist faced an overwhelming financial and organizational disadvantage. Hatch, learning from the defeat two years ago of Senate colleague Robert Bennett, spent about $10 million blanketing the airwaves and building a campaign operation unlike any Utah had seen.
Mitt Romney easily won his final presidential primary Tuesday as GOP voters in Utah relished the chance to show support for the Brigham Young University graduate.
wins New York primary
In New York, 82-year-old Rep. Charlie Rangel won the Democratic primary despite a House censure 18 months ago for failing to pay all his taxes and for filing misleading financial-disclosure statements.
Rangel, who has represented New York City's Harlem neighborhood in Congress for more than 41 years and once served as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, survived the challenge in a redrawn district.
Rangel led state Sen. Adriano Espaillat by 50.9 percent to 31.9 percent with 62 percent of the unofficial vote count reported by The Associated Press. Democrats make up about 97 percent of the district, so winning the primary almost ensures that Rangel, the co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, will return to Washington in 2013 for another term.
Espaillat, 57, was seeking to become the first Dominican American member of Congress. He said the censure reduced Rangel's effectiveness and made him a "poster child for dysfunction in Washington."
Romney: Health care
matter of states' rights
SALEM, Va. — Previewing his response to this week's expected decision on the nation's health-care law, Mitt Romney told supporters in southwestern Virginia on Tuesday that health care is a matter of "states' rights" and "personal responsibility," and that he'd block the federal plan if the Supreme Court doesn't.
Romney, whose individual health-insurance mandate in Massachusetts was a model for the provision at the heart of the current debate, said that if the court strikes down the federal law, "then the first 3 ½ years of this president's term will have been wasted on something that has not helped the American people."
Alternately, if the justices uphold the law, "we're going to need a president — and I'm that one — that's going to get rid of Obamacare. We're going to stop it on day one," the Republican presidential candidate told several hundred cheering supporters in the parking lot of a construction-machinery company.
Obama baseball joke
gets reaction — and spin
WASHINGTON — President Obama began a speech at a fundraiser Monday in Boston with a wild pitch.
He jokingly thanked the city for trading Kevin Youkilis — a beloved, core player for the Boston Red Sox for years — to Obama's hometown Chicago White Sox this week.
The crowd began booing, in a loud but seemingly good-natured, defend-our-team kind of way.
"I'm just saying," a smiling Obama told the audience at Symphony Hall. When Obama ended the riff by conceding, "You've got to know your crowd," he was rewarded with some laughter.
In a daily email blast to reporters on Tuesday, Romney press secretary Andrea Saul led off by accusing Obama of having taunted Red Sox fans.
Jay Carney, the White House press secretary and a big Red Sox fan, told reporters " ... People shouting in response to what the president said about Kevin Youkilis were saying 'Yoooouk' and not 'Booo' for God's sake."