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Political Notebook

Paul says friendship could sway Iran

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul argued that Iran is not a credible threat to the United States.

Representative Ron Paul of Texas said yesterday he would use friendship to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

With the International Atomic Energy Agency set to release a report this week suggesting that Iran is seeking to build a nuclear weapon, the Republican presidential candidate warned against overreaction, insisting that Iran is not a credible threat to the United States. “Iranians can’t make enough gasoline for themselves,’’ Paul said on “Fox News Sunday.’’ “For them to be a threat to us and to anyone in the region, I think it’s blown out of proportion.’’

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Paul opposes a bill passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week that would strengthen sanctions against Iran. “When you put on strong sanctions, those are acts of war,’’ Paul said.

Asked by host Chris Wallace how he would persuade Iran not to build a nuclear weapon if he opposed the use of sanctions or military force, Paul responded, “maybe offering friendship to them.’’

Paul took a similarly reluctant view of the use of force when Wallace asked about the use of drones to attack Al Qaeda leaders. Paul said he opposes killing enemy leaders with drones, including those in Pakistan. “Sometimes they miss, sometimes there’s collateral damage. Every time we do that, we’re making more enemies,’’ he said.

On domestic policy, Paul said that the nation should “wean ourselves off’’ supporting the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because scientific research and development should not be done by government because “politicians and bureaucrats are not smart enough to know what you should be invested in.’’

Tell all on allegations, Huntsman urges Cain

Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman called on his rival Herman Cain to release all the details about allegations of sexual harassment that surfaced last week. “It’s up to Herman Cain to get the information out and get it out in total,’’ Huntsman, the former Utah governor, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.’’ “That’s important because we’ve got some real issues to discuss in this campaign and this is taking all the bandwidth out of the discussion. Legitimate questions have been raised, and that information has to come forward.’’

But Huntsman declined to criticize Cain any further, calling him “a decent man and a good candidate.’’

Politico reported a week ago that the National Restaurant Association agreed to financial settlements with two women who asserted Cain had sexually harassed them during his tenure as president of the association.

Santorum adjusts focus in return to New Hampshire

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum will bring his socially conservative principles to New Hampshire today and tomorrow as part of his “Faith, Family, and Freedom Tour.’’ But whether his tour will resonate in a state where the Republican Party has traditionally been more socially moderate remains to be seen. Santorum will hold a town hall meeting tonight at the Church of Christ in Rochester. He will spend tomorrow morning shaking hands at the polls during municipal elections, then hold a noon town hall meeting in Raymond followed by a meeting with supporters at his campaign headquarters in Bedford.

Among the socially conservative principles Santorum is promoting are banning federal funding of embryonic stem cell research or any family planning or medical group that performs abortions; repealing a mandate that health insurance plans cover contraceptives; defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court; reinstating the ban on military service by openly gay men and women; and a “personhood’’ amendment to the Constitution, which would state that life begins at fertilization and would result in banning abortion.

In past trips to New Hampshire, a fiscally conservative but socially moderate state, Santorum has tried to focus more on the economy than on social issues. But he has failed to gain traction in the state, remaining at around 1 percent in the polls.

Now, he is using his tour to argue that the economy is tied to social policy.

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