While Mitt Romney began the international portion of his presidential audition Thursday, vice presidential tryouts continued at home, with several potential running mates campaigning for him in battleground states.
Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia attended a town hall event in Davenport, Iowa. Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana was scheduled to attend a similar event in the evening in West Des Moines, after the two governors appeared together in Coralville, Iowa.
Senator John Thune of South Dakota campaigned for the presumptive Republican nominee in Virginia Beach, Va., and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida will attend a Romney rally in Las Vegas Saturday.
Romney met Thursday with British Prime Minister David Cameron in London, where he will attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on Friday.
The Romney campaign has revealed few details of its vice presidential search. In an interview Wednesday with “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams, Romney said, “I can’t give you anything on that front whatsoever.”
At a rally Tuesday of Republican women in Virginia, Romney adviser Beth Myers — the aide leading the search — said her job has been “really, really hard” because the GOP has a “deep bench,” and she acknowledged the difficulty of keeping the process under wraps.
Senate committee approves treaty on disabilities
WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday approved, 13-6, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, sending the international agreement to the full Senate for ratification.
The bipartisan vote was a victory for committee chairman John F. Kerry, who enlisted the help of former GOP presidential nominees John McCain and Robert Dole to advocate for US participation in the series of global protocols designed to ensure that disabled individuals have access to public facilities and proper legal protections.
“This was a vote for equality of opportunity, independent living, economic self-sufficiency, and full participation for all people with disabilities both here and abroad,” the Massachusetts Democrat said in a statement.
The treaty, Kerry said, will “protect Americans with disabilities when they leave our shores” and “help export America’s values of nondiscrimination against all people living with disabilities.”
He said the vote in committee held special significance because it came on the 22d anniversary of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act.
He also said the move was a fitting tribute to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who was a chief sponsor of the domestic legislation two decades ago.
That law for the first time required equal access for the disabled to public facilities.
Voters unconcerned about candidates’ faiths, poll says
Four in 10 registered voters do not know that presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney is a Mormon, and less than half correctly identify President Obama as a Christian, according to a Pew survey published Thursday.
Overall, only 13 percent of voters say they are uncomfortable with Romney’s religion, and 19 percent say the same about Obama’s.
Much of the discomfort with Obama’s religion is rooted in the false belief that he is a Muslim — a belief that persists among 17 percent of voters. Almost two-thirds of those who think Obama is a Muslim say they are uncomfortable with his religion.
For Romney, the highest rate of discomfort is among atheists and agnostics, who are also most likely to correctly identify the former Massachusetts governor as a Mormon. Thirty percent of atheists and agnostics who know Romney is a Mormon say they are uncomfortable with his faith.
Despite voters’ frequent inability to identify the candidates’ religions, 67 percent say it is important that a president has strong religious beliefs, according to the poll.
But with less than a fifth of voters expressing discomfort with either man’s faith, Pew concluded, “there is little evidence to suggest that concerns about the candidates’ respective faiths will have a meaningful impact in the fall elections.”
Justice employees pushed relatives for jobs, IG says
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s inspector general said Thursday that eight high-ranking employees in the department’s management division improperly promoted the hiring of relatives for summer or full-time work or assisted others in doing so.
Seven of the employees violated federal law restricting employment of relatives, and the eighth violated a federal ethics standard, the inspector general concluded. A ninth, Mari Barr Santangelo, the highest-ranking person mentioned in the report, was criticized for failing to respond to indicators that her subordinates may have violated antinepotism laws.
The report is the third investigation of improper hiring practices in the division. The inspector general criticized two previous directors of the Facilities and Administrative Services Staff in 2004 and again in 2008 for manipulating the competitive hiring process to favor particular candidates.