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    Political Notebook

    Biden defends president’s record on foreign and domestic policy

     Vice President Joe Biden accused Mitt Romney of distorting President Obama’s record and being inconsistent during a speech Thursday at NewYork University LawSchool.
    Vice President Joe Biden accused Mitt Romney of distorting President Obama’s record and being inconsistent during a speech Thursday at NewYork University LawSchool.

    NEW YORK - Vice President Joe Biden delivered a harsh attack Thursday on Mitt Romney’s foreign policy views, contending that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is rooted in a Cold War mentality and is uninformed about the current challenges facing the United States abroad.

    In a campaign speech delivered at New York University Law School, Biden laid out a robust defense of President Obama’s foreign policy record while eviscerating Romney for lacking vision and for “distorting’’ Obama’s record in a way that has been counterproductive to US interests.

    “If you’re looking for a bumper sticker to sum up how President Obama has handled what we inherited, it’s pretty simple: Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive,’’ Biden said, saying Obama’s decisions on both foreign and domestic policy had made the nation safer.


    Biden cast the former Massachusetts governor as an inexperienced foreign policy thinker who would delegate decisions to staff and advisers. He also hit Romney on his reputation for flip-flopping on issues.

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    “We know when the governor does venture a position it’s a safe bet that he previously took or will take an exactly opposite position,’’ Biden said, noting that Romney had originally supported setting a time frame for pulling US troops from Afghanistan only to later criticize Obama’s plan to do so by the end of 2014.

    Biden repeatedly used Romney’s own words against him, such as when Romney downplayed the significance of capturing Osama bin Laden during his 2008 presidential bid and, more recently, when Romney said Russia was the United States’ gravest geopolitical foe.

    “As my brother would say, ‘Go figure,’ ’’ Biden said to laughs.

    In response, Romney adviser John Lehman accused the president of a “gross abdication of leadership’’ that could have practical and political consequences.


    “Why is the United States under Obama abdicating its leadership for keeping stability in the world?’’ asked Lehman, who was the Navy secretary in the Reagan administration, during a conference call Romney’s campaign arranged with reporters before Biden spoke. “This is a serious crisis and perhaps could be the central issue in the campaign.’’

    Lehman continued: “The Obama administration in a very studied and intentional way is withdrawing from leading the free world and maintaining stability around the world - what Obama calls leading from behind. But the reality is it’s opening up huge new vulnerabilities.’’

    Obama has not described his foreign policy as “leading from behind.’’ Republicans used the phrase to chastise Obama for his handling of last year’s uprising in Libya.

    Biden recited Obama’s foreign policy achievements, noting that he ordered the attack that killed bin Laden and fulfilled a campaign promise to end the Iraq war. Biden said Obama repaired alliances with other nations, particularly with geopolitical partners in Europe and Asia.

    — Associated Press

    Rick Perry changes tack, speaks highly of Romney

    Governor Rick Perry of Texas, one of Mitt Romney’s most bitter rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, has endorsed Romney.


    Perry had criticized Romney’s business record, calling him a “vulture capitalist,’’ and allied himself with Newt Gingrich after exiting the race in January. But with the Gingrich campaign saying Wednesday afternoon that the former House speaker will withdraw next week, Perry announced in a statement Wednesday night that he would back Romney.

    “American jobs, economic stability, and national security depend on electing a new president,’’ Perry said. “Mitt’s vision and record of private-sector success will put America back on the path of job creation, economic opportunity, and limited government.’’

    Perry’s praise for Romney’s “private-sector success’’ was a 180-degree turn from the way he described the presumptive GOP nominee’s history during the campaign.

    Discussing two South Carolina companies before a primary in that state, Perry accused Romney of “picking their bones clean.’’

    “That’s not what we’re looking for in a president of the United States,’’ he said. “We’re looking for someone that knows how to build jobs, create jobs. And that’s what I’ve done in the state of Texas. So there’s no use trying to paper this over. That is a problem for Mitt, and he’s going to have to face it.’’

    Perry’s former campaign spokesman, Ray Sullivan, told Fox News Channel that the former adversaries have not spoken but that Perry is willing to campaign on Romney’s behalf.

    — Callum Borchers

    Senate renews Violence Against Women Act

    WASHINGTON - The Senate has passed a bill to renew the government’s main domestic violence program.

    The 68 to 31 vote to renew and expand the Violence Against Women Act sends the matter to the House, which is writing its own version.

    The 1994 law is designed to protect women and children from abuse, and historically has been without controversy.

    But this election year, gender politics roiled the debate for weeks.

    Democrats accused Republicans of standing in the way and waging a “war against women.’’

    But Republicans never tried to block the measure.

    Instead they proposed removing specific references to protecting gays, lesbians, and transgender people, and capping the number of visas for battered immigrants.

    — Associated Press

    NLRB investigated over leaks to Romney adviser

    WASHINGTON - A government watchdog has expanded an ethics probe of the National Labor Relations Board after finding that more inside information was leaked to a former adviser to Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, a Democratic lawmaker said Thursday.

    Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland said the board’s inspector general discovered additional and more serious improper disclosures by Republican board member Terence Flynn to former National Labor Relations Board member Peter Schaumber, who was a senior labor adviser to Romney’s campaign.

    Cummings, top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the inspector general referred his findings to the Office of Special Counsel for potential violations of the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity.

    Romney’s campaign disclosed for the first time Thursday that Schaumber stepped down in December from his advisory post, around the time the investigation began.

    — Associated Press