TAMPA — President Obama is tapping Senator John F. Kerry to deliver a speech focused on national security issues during the closing night of next week’s Democratic National Convention.
The three-day gathering in Charlotte, N.C., will have a heavy national security focus, underscoring the administration’s intention to highlight its work to end combat operations in Iraq, draw down forces in Afghanistan, and approve a military raid that killed terrorist Osama bin Laden and contrast these accomplishments with the rhetoric of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Kerry is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has served as an unofficial administration envoy to trouble spots in the Middle East, Horn of Africa, and Afghanistan.
The Massachusetts Democrat also is a potential secretary of state if Obama wins reelection. He has been poring over Romney’s record in preparation for his role as the former Massachusetts governor’s stand-in during Obama’s debate preparation sessions.
He will speak in prime time, shortly before Obama and Vice President Joe Biden accept their respective nominations. Kerry’s remarks will be the main convention speech focused on national security issues.
“Senator Kerry will speak to how the president has restored America’s leadership in the world, has taken the fight to our enemies, and has a plan to bring our troops home from Afghanistan just like he did from Iraq,” said an Obama campaign official who demanded anonymity to speak about the speech before it was officially announced.
“He will contrast the president’s strong leadership in this area with Mitt Romney, who has embraced the go-it-alone, reckless policies of the past that weakened America’s place in the world and made us less secure here at home,” the official added.
In a sense the speech closes a loop between Kerry and Obama begun in 2004, when Kerry — himself then the Democrats’ presidential nominee — tapped Obama to deliver the keynote address at his nominating convention in Boston.
The speech propelled Obama into the national consciousness and toward the Democratic nomination and the presidency four years later.
During the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Kerry addressed the delegates shortly before Biden accepted his nomination.
Kerry used the occasion to highlight Obama’s foreign policy views and dissect those of his fellow Vietnam War veteran, Senator John McCain, then the Republican nominee. - GLEN JOHNSON
Paul Ryan opposed disaster-aid system
WASHINGTON — As Hurricane Isaac bears down on the Gulf Coast, there should be plenty of money — some $1.5 billion — in federal disaster aid coffers, thanks, in part, to a new system that sets aside help for victims of hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods before they occur.
It’s a system that Paul Ryan, the Republican nominee for vice president, had hoped to scrap as a way to make his House GOP budget look smaller by about $10 billion a year. Politely, party elders told him no way, at least for now.
Capitol Hill Democrats like Senate majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana were the driving force behind the new disaster funding mechanism and made it part of last summer’s hard-fought budget pact with backing from President Obama.
Before that, the president had given short shrift to budgeting for disasters. A spate of them early last year forced him to reconsider.
The new system means aid will not have to compete with other programs for financing, nor have to rely on less certain ad hoc funding at the height of a crisis.
Many House Republicans, however, are unhappy with the approach. Ryan tried to gut it and eliminate $10 billion a year in disaster costs when putting together the House GOP budget.
But in doing so Ryan sideswiped a still-powerful Appropriations Committee that was still stinging from $19 billion in Budget Committee-induced cuts to last year’s deal. Appropriations Committee chairman Harold Rogers, Republican of Kentucky, protested to GOP leaders and won a gentleman’s agreement that the new system would stay in place, at least for this year.
However, Ryan’s point of view might still prevail if Mitt Romney defeats Obama in November.
What Ryan proposes is that when disaster strikes, lawmakers scour the rest of the budget for savings to pay for rebuilding homes, roads, and schools and helping small businesses. - ASSOCIATED PRESS
Somerville mayor criticizes Romney
TAMPA — When the Democrats rolled out a few pieces of artillery Tuesday to counter the opening broadsides of the Republican National Convention, Mayor Joe Curtatone of Somerville helped provide the ammunition.
Curtatone appeared at a news conference at what the Democrats are calling the Counter-Convention War Room, a sidewalk office near the Tampa Bay Times Forum, to lambaste Mitt Romney’s record as Massachusetts governor.
Under Romney, Curtatone said, the state economy languished, small businesses suffered, and tens of thousands of people left Massachusetts. “He doesn’t know the first thing about building businesses for the long term,” said Curtatone, who has been Somerville’s mayor since 2004. “He would do the same thing as president.” - BRIAN MACQUARRIE
Cardinal to pray at both conventions
NEW YORK — Cardinal Timothy Dolan says he’s now giving the closing prayer at both the Democratic and Republican conventions.
The New York Roman Catholic leader made the announcement Tuesday through his spokesman.
After Mitt Romney announced last week that Dolan would offer the benediction at this week’s Republican Convention in Tampa, some Catholic liberals criticized Dolan’s appearance.
They said it gave the impression he was endorsing Romney.
Dolan, president of the US bishops’ conference, is an outspoken critic of President Obama’s mandate that employers provide health insurance that covers birth control.
Dolan said he was participating only to give a prayer. After the criticism, Dolan said he offered to attend next week’s Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C. - ASSOCIATED PRESS