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Political Notebook

Brown campaign attributes plagiarism to ‘technical error’

Associated Press

United State Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., gestures while speaking with members of the media at a hotel in Boston.

WASHINGTON - A Democratic group has unearthed a bit of inspirational autobiography on Republican Senator Scott Brown’s official website that was lifted verbatim from Elizabeth Dole’s site, language that originated in a campaign speech.

In a message to students, the senator uses the exact words as remarks delivered by the former North Carolina senator at her campaign kickoff in 2002.

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Brown’s staff acknowledged yesterday the words originally were Dole’s and said their presence in Brown’s message was the result of a technical error.

“I was raised to believe that there are no limits to individual achievement and no excuses to justify indifference,’’ said the message from Brown, which was removed later yesterday. “From an early age, I was taught that success is measured not in material accumulations, but in service to others. I was encouraged to join causes larger than myself, to pursue positive change through a sense of mission, and to stand up for what I believe.’’

Aside from the omission of an opening line - “I am Mary and John Hanford’s daughter’’ - in Dole’s speech, the Bay State Republican’s language is the same throughout.

The matching language was disclosed by American Bridge 21st Century, a liberal “super PAC’’ that has been scouring Republicans’ records ahead of next year’s elections.

“This kind of plagiarism makes me wonder how many things about Scott Brown are really genuine,’’ said Rodell Mollineau, president of American Bridge 21st Century.

He added: “The fact that he can’t come up with a personal values statement of his own, that he has to steal someone else’s, I think is very instructive of what kind of politician he is.’’

Brown, who shocked the political world in January 2010 when he won a special election to fill the remainder of the term of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, is up for reelection next year.

His spokesman, John Donnelly, said the language was attributed to Brown in error, while his staff was creating the senator’s website.

“Senator Dole’s website served as one of the models for Senator Brown’s website when he first took office. During construction of the site, the content on this particular page was inadvertently transferred without being rewritten,’’ Donnelly said. “It was a staff-level oversight which we regret and is being corrected.’’

Dole, a one-term former senator who also served as US secretary of labor and is married to 1996 Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole, did not immediately return a request for comment.

— Alex Katz

House and Senate approve 3 free trade agreements

WASHINGTON - Congress approved free trade agreements last night with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama, ending a four-year drought in the forming of new trade partnerships and giving the White House and Capitol Hill the opportunity to show they can work together to stimulate the economy and put people back to work.

In rapid succession, the House and Senate voted on the three trade pacts, which the administration says could boost exports by $13 billion and support tens of thousands of American jobs.

None of the votes were close, despite opposition from labor groups and other critics of free trade agreements who say they result in job losses and ignore labor rights problems in the partner countries.

“We don’t do much around here that’s bipartisan these days,’’ said Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican who was US trade representative during the George W. Bush administration. “This is an example of where we can come together as Republicans and Democrats, realizing that with 14 million Americans out of work, we need to do things to move our economy forward.’’

President Obama said passage of the agreements was “a major win for American workers and businesses.’’

The agreements would lower or eliminate tariffs that American exporters face in the three countries.

They also take steps to better protect intellectual property and improve access for American investors in those countries.

The House also passed and sent to Obama for his signature a bill to extend aid to workers displaced by foreign competition.

Obama had demanded that the worker aid bill be part of the trade package.

— Associated Press

Obama campaign makes first attack on Romney

WASHINGTON - President Obama’s reelection campaign launched an opening attack on Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney yesterday, painting the former Massachusetts governor as a flip-flopper whose economic plans would harm the middle class.

The criticism from senior campaign strategist David Axelrod was a tacit acknowledgment from the Obama camp that Romney is separating himself from the rest of the Republican field and represented an attempt to begin shaping a public counter-narrative.

Many political analysts have said Romney would have the best chance to beat Obama.

Axelrod blasted Romney for calling Obama’s proposal to extend a payroll tax cut a “little Band-Aid’’ during a Republican candidate debate Tuesday night at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. Romney said he would prefer permanent changes to the tax code rather than Obama’s temporary extension.

Noting that the payroll tax cut would mean an extra $1,500 for the typical family, Axelrod said that Romney’s opposition “does not inspire trust, it inspires questions. And those questions will grow over time.’’

During a conference call with reporters, Axelrod said Romney has taken conflicting positions on issues ranging from health care to taxes to the question of Chinese currency manipulation.

“If this were one time, you might say it was a momentary lapse, but it was a pattern time and time and time again,’’ Axelrod said.

— Associated Press
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