OMAHA — Democrat Bob Kerrey got an atta-boy Thursday from former Republican senator Chuck Hagel, who said the former senator would break the partisan ‘‘nonsense that’s literally strangling our country.’’ Republicans supporting GOP hopeful Deb Fischer in Nebraska’s tight Senate race scoffed and suggested Hagel was sniffing around for a Cabinet seat under President Obama.
‘‘I think at the end of the day, people are going to look at this endorsement and see it for what it is,’’ said Senator Mike Johanns, a Republican and friend of Hagel’s who pointed out that the former senator angered the GOP with criticism of former President George W. Bush’s handling of the war in Iraq. ‘‘It’s a step in his path to try to build those bone fides that he is truly an Obama person and deserves a place in his Cabinet.’’
At a press conference, Hagel dismissed the criticism. Hagel said if he were angling for a Cabinet position under Obama, ‘‘I’d be out in Virginia or Ohio campaigning for the president, not Bob Kerrey.’’ He demurred when asked if he would consider any future Cabinet post offer from Obama.
Nebraska is being closely-watched in the broader fight for control of the Senate. Republicans must gain four seats to win the majority if Obama is reelected, or three seats if Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney prevails.
Hagel said he was backing his former colleague as the best candidate to ease the partisan gridlock that has gripped Congress in recent years.
‘‘We must put an end to this senseless and irresponsible partisan paralysis that has locked down our government,’’ said Hagel.
Speaking at a state party gathering Thursday in Lincoln, Fischer said the Hagel endorsement would not swing enough votes for Kerrey. The rancher pointed to her endorsements from major Republican figures in the state: Governor Dave Heineman, Johanns, Nebraska’s three GOP congressmen, and former governors Kay Orr and Charlie Thone.
A Facebook glitch has liberals irate
WASHINGTON — Visit Mitt Romney’s page on Facebook and you’ll see 11.6 million “likes.” Lee Wolf, a self-described liberal who likes nothing about Romney’s politics, was stunned to hear from friends on the online social network that his name had popped up as one of the apparent supporters.
“I don’t believe in anything he says,’’ said Wolf, who owns the Lobster Shanty, a restaurant in downtown Salem, Mass. “I’m still wondering how it happened.”
Others are wondering, too.
“This happened to me!! I keep unliking the Mitt Romney, but his posts keep coming back!! So frustrating!! Go Obama!!!” wrote Facebook user Sabeen Shamsi, one of 676 people who “liked” a Facebook page dubbed “Hacked by Mitt Romney” created last month to denounce how their “accounts are being signed up for Mitt Romney’s page without the owner’s permission.”
The culprit was unclear. A Romney spokesperson declined to comment, and a spokeswoman for Facebook could not explain apparent glitches but said the company would look into the matter.
“I don’t think Mitt Romney is sitting at his keyboard doing this,” said Mark Turner, a computer systems administrator in Raleigh, N.C.. who set up the “hacked by’’ Romney page. He suspects a software issue.
Still, Turner said it was upsetting, “because they’re putting words in my mouth.”
With 60 percent of American adults connected via social media portals such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, online communities are an important part of the political process.
Thirty-nine percent of American adults have taken some kind of civic or political action using social networks, such as encouraging friends to vote or advocating a political position, said Aaron Smith, a Pew researcher.
“Recommendations from people they know or people like them can be more powerful than people they don’t know,” Smith said.
It is understandable, he said, why some would be upset that they are being portrayed as having beliefs they do not hold. Imagine, he said, if an Obama yard sign suddenly appeared on the front lawn of a Romney supporter.
“What appears on people’s social networking sites is a self-curated picture of who they are,” Smith said.
Wolf is not sure how he came to “like” Mitt Romney. If the date stamp on his Facebook account is to be believed, it happened at 2:15 a.m. on July 17.
On the early morning of July 16, he “liked” rapper Jay Z, car racer Danica Patrick, and Grey Goose Vodka.
“It’s highly unlikely that I pressed “like” on any of these things,” he insisted.
A friend alerted Wolf that something was amiss.
“I don’t want to give friends the wrong impression, that somehow I actually agree with the things he stands for.”
Wolf thought it was a glitch. But Thursday, he saw that buried in his list of 470 “likes” was Romney’s mug.
“Now that I know it’s actually there,” he said, “I’ll ‘unlike’ it as soon as we hang up.”
BOBBY CAINA CALVAN
New Jersey scrambling to get ready for Election Day
MOONACHIE, N.J. — New Jersey state officials say they are extending the deadline for mail-in ballots and will deploy military trucks to serve as polling places on Election Day in storm-battered communities.
Secretary of State and Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, a Republican, said Thursday that county clerks’ offices have been ordered to remain open this weekend to help process mail-in ballots.
Voters will be able to go to the clerks’ offices through Tuesday to fill out mail-in ballots and hand them in.
Requests for mail-in ballots are typically accepted by mail up to a week before an election and in person until 3 p.m. the day before an election.
Guadagno says it is unclear how many of the state’s 3,000 polling places have electricity but she will know better Friday. More than 1.7 million electric customers are without power.
New Jersey’s largest city, Newark, is under a state of emergency. At least half its residents do not have power and three died in the storm. Mayor Cory Booker said Thursday he had preliminary conversations regarding Election Day but does not yet have a plan for getting people to the polls.
‘‘I have a lot of faith in the power of this democracy, the resiliency of our communities, and that when Election Day comes we will make a way for people to vote,’’ Booker said.
County election officials along New Jersey’s storm-battered Atlantic Coast were taking it upon themselves to assess the damage to polling places and determine contingency plans.
Michael Kennedy, the Democratic registrar for the board of elections in hard-hit Cape May County, said many polling places will have to be combined.
‘‘It’s still a pretty big mess out there. Some of them are under water and out of power,’’ Kennedy said of the polling sites.
Kennedy said he is also concerned about having enough volunteers to staff the sites.
‘‘A lot of our poll workers live on barrier islands and were relocated because of the storm,’’ he said.