Political Notebook

Senator Joe Manchin among undecideds on presidential vote

Associated Press
Senator Joe Manchin said he's unsure whether he'll vote for President Barack Obama or likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

WASHINGTON - Senator Joe Manchin said he is unsure whether he will vote for his party’s leader, President Obama, or the likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

In a statement Friday, the West Virginia Democrat said he had “some real differences’’ with both leaders, finding fault with Obama’s energy and economic policies while questioning whether Romney could understand the challenges facing ordinary people.

“I strongly believe that every American should always be rooting for our president to do well, no matter which political party that he or she might belong to,’’ Manchin said. “With that being said, many West Virginians believe the last 3 1/2 years haven’t been good for us, but we’re hopeful that they can get better.’’


Manchin, one of the more moderate Senate Democrats, has broken with his party on several issues as he seeks reelection this year. His state has backed the Republican candidate in the last three presidential elections, and Obama did not fare well in 2008. Obama lost to GOP nominee John McCain, 56-43 percent, and was overwhelmed by Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primary, losing 67-26 percent.

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Manchin, the former governor who won the Senate seat in 2010, remains popular in West Virginia and is not considered vulnerable in his rematch against Republican John Raese.

In an interview with National Journal published Friday, Manchin said he will “look at the options’’ in casting his presidential vote. Elaborating in Friday’s statement, he criticized Romney, saying “there are many West Virginians who believe that he’s out of touch, especially because of his plan to end Medicare as we know it and privatize Social Security.’’

He added that like many West Virginians, he has concerns “about the Obama administration when it comes to energy - coal in particular - and the need to get our financial house in order.’’

The administration has angered some in West Virginia with its increased scrutiny of the destructive practice of mountaintop coal mining, which is concentrated in Appalachia.

— Associated Press

Jeb Bush says Rubio is ‘probably the best’ VP pick


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Jeb Bush said he would consider running as vice president with Mitt Romney, but doubts he will be asked.

Bush, a former governor of Florida, told the conservative website Newsmax that Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is “probably the best’’ choice to share the ticket with Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. Bush said he hopes the freshman senator is offered the No. 2 slot and accepts it.

Rubio has said repeatedly that he isn’t interested in leaving the Senate.

— Associated Press

President takes rates pitch to colleges in swing states

WASHINGTON - Pivoting to his latest election-year theme, President Obama will go before college crowds in three swing states to warn of financial doom for millions of students if Congress does not halt a looming rise in student-loan interest rates. His clear political mission: rallying young voters whose support he needs again.

Obama’s trip next week will take him to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and the University of Iowa. All three provide him potentially giant audiences in states he carried in 2008 and ones that are key to his reelection prospects against presumptive opponent Mitt Romney.


The issue at hand: Interest rates are set to double on July 1, from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, on a popular federal loan for low- and middle-income undergraduates. Congress voted in 2007 to drop the rate in half over four years. Now the looming expiration is an election-year issue.

— Associated Press

Obama to mark Holocaust during speech at museum

WASHINGTON - President Obama will mark the annual commemoration of the Holocaust during a speech Monday at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

The White House says Obama will discuss his administration’s strategy to prevent and respond to mass atrocities and address the United States’ “never again’’ pledge to not stand by in the face of genocide.

Obama will be introduced by Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.

Ex-DeLay aide sentenced in last act of Abramoff probe

WASHINGTON - A former aide to onetime congressional power broker Tom DeLay was sentenced Friday to five months in a halfway house in the final act of the probe of the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling scandal.

Tony Rudy, a former deputy chief of staff to DeLay, pleaded guilty six years ago to conspiring with Abramoff, a Republican super-lobbyist, and others to accept a stream of gifts when Rudy was a congressional staffer and to offering gifts to public officials when Rudy became a lobbyist - all in exchange for legislative favors. His cooperation with prosecutors has led to 18 convictions.

— Associated Press