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Political Notebook

Gingrich maps out plan

 Newt Gingrich hopes to set the tone for the presidential campaign with his 10-point plan for the country.

Charlie Neibergall/AP Photos

Newt Gingrich hopes to set the tone for the presidential campaign with his 10-point plan for the country.

DES MOINES - Hoping to revive his flagging bid for the Republican presidential nomination, former House speaker Newt Gingrich is calling for an overhaul of the way Americans pay taxes, buy health care, and contribute to Social Security.

Gingrich mapped out the 10-point plan, which he’s calling The 21st Century Contract with America, in a speech at a Des Moines insurance company yesterday. Key elements include repealing President Obama’s health care plan, giving taxpayers the option of paying a flat tax, and allowing young people to opt out of Social Security.

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Gingrich is putting the new Contract with America at the core of his campaign for the Republican nomination, betting it will set the tone for the campaign discussion going forward.

“This is the essence of, hopefully, the next 10 years,’’ he said. “It shows you the direction, I think, the country has to go, it shows you how I think we can get there.’’

Gingrich has struggled against low poll ratings and high unfavorability ratings.

Gingrich conceded yesterday that he doesn’t have the money that front-runners Mitt Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry can muster, so he said he will compete in the marketplace of ideas.

Voters are demanding detailed solutions from candidates, Gingrich said.

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He also called for boosting domestic energy production, easing government regulation of businesses, bolstering medical research to combat such diseases as Alzheimer’s, and curtailing the power of the courts.

He detailed his package in a one-hour speech to about 350 people gathered at the Principal Financial Group, which is sponsoring a series of town hall-style meetings with presidential candidates in Iowa.

— Associated Press

Mont. senator unhappy with doctored ad photo

HELENA, Mont. - Senator Jon Tester of Montana isn’t happy about a Republican attack advertisement portraying him with all five fingers on his left hand - even though he lost three fingers in a childhood accident.

Tester, a first-term Democrat, is being challenged in his 2012 reelection bid by Representative Denny Rehberg, one of the best-known Republicans in Montana. Polls have shown the race is very tight, and it is expected to be among the most watched in the nation as the parties vie for control of the Senate.

Both Tester and Rehberg are expected to get plenty of outside help and money.

The most recent hullabaloo comes over an ad from the National Republican Senatorial Committee that portrays Tester as cozy with Washington lobbyists. It also shows a photo of Tester happily greeting President Obama, aiming to send a message to Montana voters about the ties between the two.

But the edited photo portrays Tester as having a left hand with all five fingers. Three of those fingers were taken when Tester, as a child, was working in the family farm’s butcher shop.

Tester spokesman Aaron Murphy said “from the made-up photo to the misleading message, the whole ad is an inaccurate picture of Jon and his record.’’

Republicans said yesterday that someone else’s left hand was accidentally left in the photo. The Republican committee argues the mix-up doesn’t change the message of the ad.

— Associated Press

Bachmann blames Obama for Arab uprisings

CONCORD, N.C. - Republican Michele Bachmann is blaming President Obama’s stand on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks for the uprisings against autocratic governments across the Arab world.

At a fund-raiser yesterday in North Carolina, Bachmann traced the protests that sometimes turned deadly to Obama’s call for Israel to return to negotiations and pull back to the territory it held before the 1967 war with several Arab nations.

In video posted by MSNBC, Bachmann said the president “has laid the table for the Arab spring by demonstrating weakness from the United States of America.’’

The Arab spring protests stretched from Algeria in North Africa to Syria in the Middle East. Some led to political instability in nations with longstanding rulers, including the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Moammar Khadafy in Libya. Also, the government forces of Bashar Assad have brutally suppressed widespread protests in Syria.

Bachmann’s campaign did not immediately return a message seeking elaboration.

— Associated Press

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