WASHINGTON - Mitt Romney says that if he is elected Congress should wait until he takes office to block automatic spending cuts and to keep tax cuts from expiring.
In an interview with Time magazine Wednesday, the Republican presidential candidate said he wants Congress to deal with major issues to keep the nation from going over a “fiscal cliff’’ after the January swearing-in. Romney said he wants permanent legislation to deal with those problems instead of a temporary effort.
Government analysts say the economy will shrink if Congress doesn’t act to prevent the expiration of two major rounds of tax cuts along with automatic spending cuts to the Pentagon and domestic programs.
Romney said he believes he will have a “grace period’’ to work on those issues with like-minded lawmakers.
Romney also pledged that he would drive down unemployment to 6 percent or lower by the end of his first term. It was one of the few times he has given voters such a specific figure to which he could be held accountable. The guarantee is also notable because Romney has claimed President Obama broke a promise to hold the jobless rate under 8 percent.
The national unemployment rate is currently 8.1 percent.
Globe wires and staff
Powell sizes up Romney’s foreign policy stance
“C’mon, Mitt, think.’’
So said Colin Powell on Wednesday as he assessed Mitt Romney’s foreign policy views. Powell, appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,’’ said he wondered what Romney was thinking when he heard that the candidate had declared Russia was the country’s top geopolitical foe.
Powell, who served as secretary of state under George W. Bush, endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 and said he wasn’t ready to make an endorsement for 2012. But he made clear he is concerned about what he called the positions of some of Romney’s foreign policy advisers.
“Some of them are quite far to the right, and sometimes they, I think, might be in a position to make judgments or recommendations to the candidate that should get a second thought,’’ Powell said.
Powell did not name the advisers he is concerned about. But Romney’s advisers include John Bolton, who served in the Bush administration as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security and US ambassador to the United Nations. Bolton at times clashed with the more moderate Powell.
Powell’s comments highlighted what could be a major issue in the fall campaign. President Obama is hoping that his foreign policy successes, such as the killing of Osama bin Laden, will help him win reelection. Romney, meanwhile, has criticized Obama’s foreign policy, saying, for example, that the United States should be tougher on Iran.
Obama camp says support growing for gay marriage
WASHINGTON - President Obama’s reelection campaign is beginning to express some confidence that his historic, yet politically risky, embrace of gay marriage may not hurt him in the November election.
In a conference call announcing efforts to get gay and lesbian voters engaged in the Obama campaign, officials said poll numbers on same-sex marriage were increasingly tilting in their favor.
“A lot of recent polls show that support for gay marriage across the country is growing,’’ said Clo Ewing, an Obama campaign spokeswoman.
That includes a Washington Post-ABC News poll out Wednesday that showed 53 percent of Americans say gay marriage should be a legal, a new high for the poll. Thirty-nine percent, a new low, said gay marriage should be illegal.
Immediately following Obama’s announcement of support for gay marriage, White House and campaign aides acknowledged that the political fallout was unclear.
Thirty states have voted against gay marriage.
GOP nomination almost a mathematical reality
Mitt Romney is within 79 delegates of clinching the Republican presidential nomination, after winning two-thirds of the vote Tuesday in Arkansas and Kentucky primaries.
The two victories were essentially formalities. Representative Ron Paul of Texas, the only other GOP candidate left in the race, did not campaign in Arkansas and Kentucky and has said he will not campaign in the seven remaining primary states either.
But Romney’s wins were significant if only because they put his nomination within true mathematical reach. Romney is likely to lock up the nod next Tuesday, when Texas holds its primary.