- Obama accuses Republican rival of suffering "Romnesia"
- Boy dies in violent protests over new Panama land law
- South Sudan's vice president dismisses talk of military coup
Posted: 19 Oct 2012 07:16 PM PDT
FAIRFAX, Va./WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama turned his rival's name into an ailment on Friday, accusing Mitt Romney of suffering from "Romnesia" for emphasizing moderate positions rather than the conservative ones he put forward in the Republican primary race.
Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, has closed a gap in opinion polls with the Democratic incumbent after giving a strong performance in the first presidential debate on October 3, when he sounded a moderate note on healthcare reform and the need for government regulation - highlights of Obama's platform.
After a lacklustre showing in that debate, Obama has delivered fiery retorts since, both in the second debate on October 16 - which many observers say Obama won - and on the campaign trail, with the election looming on November 6.
Obama told a crowd of about 9,000 in the election battleground state of Virginia that Romney has been backtracking on his conservative-leaning promises.
"He's forgetting what his own positions are, and he's betting that you will, too. I mean, he's changing up so much and backtracking and sidestepping, we've gotta ... name this condition that he's going through," Obama said.
"I think it's called Romnesia," he said to hoots and applause from the crowd.
Romney responded at an oceanfront rally with a crowd of about 8,500 people in Daytona Beach, Florida, saying: "They've been reduced to petty attacks and silly word games."
"Just watch it, the Obama campaign has become the incredible shrinking campaign. This is a big country with big opportunities and great challenges, and they keep on talking about smaller and smaller things," Romney added, saying Obama has "no agenda for a second term."
The Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll had Obama ahead by 3 percentage points much of this week. Obama was again on top by 46 percent to 43 percent in Friday's version of the online poll.
Although Obama has lost his large lead in polls in several swing states since the first debate, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Marist poll issued on Friday showed the Democrat ahead in Iowa by 8 percentage points and in Wisconsin by 6 percentage points.
A PPP survey showed Romney ahead by 1 percentage point in Iowa, as polls gave few certainties to the outcomes of the race beyond pointing to a likely tight finish.
A CNN/ORC International poll conducted after the second presidential debate showed 49 percent of likely voters in the battleground state of Florida supporting Romney and 48 percent supporting Obama.
In an election mainly driven by the economy, new state unemployment data issued on Friday could provide momentum for Obama in some of the most important battleground states.
Unemployment fell in September in pivotal states such as Florida, Nevada, Ohio and Iowa. The jobless rate in Virginia held steady at 5.9 percent for a third straight month.
At his rally in a northern Virginia suburb of Washington, Obama took his riff on amnesia to great length, describing "symptoms" that coincided with Romney's positions on abortion and taxes for the wealthy.
"If you say you'll protect a woman's right to choose, but you stand up at a primary debate and said that you'd be delighted to sign a law outlawing ... that right to choose in all cases - man, you've definitely got Romnesia," Obama said.
"If you say earlier in the year you're going to give tax cuts for the top 1 percent, and then in a debate you say, 'I don't know anything about giving tax cuts to rich folks,' you need to get a thermometer, take your temperature, because you've probably got Romnesia."
Obama said his 2010 healthcare law, which Republicans have dubbed "Obamacare" and deride as a government takeover of the $2.8 trillion U.S. health system, is the cure for "Romnesia."
'WOMEN HAVEN'T FORGOTTEN'
Romney's campaign shot back that Obama, who has focused a lot of attention on women voters since the debate, has promoted policies that have hurt women particularly.
"Women haven't forgotten how we've suffered over the last four years in the Obama economy with higher taxes, higher unemployment and record levels of poverty," Virginia lawmaker Barbara Comstock said in a statement sent by the campaign.
"President Obama has failed to put forward a second-term agenda - and when you don't have a plan to run on, you stoop to scare tactics," Comstock added.
It is not the first time Obama has used a distorted version of his opponent's name to try to score political points and energize his liberal base. He has used the attack line "Romney Hood" to deride his rival's tax proposals, essentially saying they would rob ordinary Americans to help the rich.
The term "Romnesia" was not invented by the Obama campaign. "Romnesia" appeared on Facebook to mock the Republican presidential challenger and has been used by liberal blogs and newspaper columnists.
Obama later returned to the White House before departing for the presidential retreat Camp David in Maryland, where he will huddle with advisers David Plouffe, David Axelrod and others to prepare for Monday's presidential debate on foreign policy.
Romney arrived in Florida, where he will spend the weekend preparing for that final debate with members of his brain trust, including U.S. Senator Rob Portman and senior adviser Stuart Stevens.
(Additional reporting by Steve Holland in Daytona Beach, Florida; Editing by Alistair Bell and Will Dunham)
As other polls show tight race, Gallup stands apart
Copyright © 2012 Reuters
Posted: 19 Oct 2012 07:01 PM PDT
PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - At least one person, a 9-year-old boy, died on Friday in violent protests over a new law allowing the sale of state-owned land in a dilapidated port city within the duty-free zone next to the Panama Canal.
Several residents and police were also injured in Colon, Panama's second-largest city, in a third day of protests against the plan, which the National Assembly approved early on Friday and President Ricardo Martinelli signed into law hours later.
Hundreds of people burned tires and threw objects and shot at police, who fired back and used teargas to disperse the crowd. Local authorities instituted a 4 p.m. curfew.
Three police officers were shot and five injured, a police spokeswoman said. She said the boy was shot in the chest with bullets not used by police.
Local media reported as many as three dead, 16 injured, and 40 arrested, but police could not confirm that late on Friday.
The government argues that the sale of the land will yield greater revenues than continuing to lease it, which brings in about $33 million a year.
About 2,000 companies rent land and employ about 30,000 people in the Colon Free Trade Zone, the largest such region in the Americas.
Critics have denounced the government plan as an irresponsible political manoeuvre to cover government spending and keep the deficit low. They say selling the land will harm residents of Colon, which has one of the highest rates of poverty and crime in the tiny Central American country.
(Reporting by Lomi Kriel; Editing by David Brunnstrom)
Copyright © 2012 Reuters
Posted: 19 Oct 2012 06:37 PM PDT
NEW YORK (Reuters) - South Sudan's vice president, Riek Machar, dismissed on Friday rumours of a planned military coup, saying it would be "unwise" for army officers to attempt a takeover of the year-old state.
The speculation was serious enough to prompt South Sudan's President Salva Kiir to visit the headquarters of Sudan's army (SPLA) this week to warn that any successful coup leaders would be isolated internationally, according to the Sudan Tribune.
During a visit to New York to meet with potential investors, Machar laughed off the rumours of a coup as not a serious threat and said that a recently detained general had not been arrested for planning a coup, but for other issues.
"When I first heard of it, I dismissed it," he told Reuters. "The nature of the state of South Sudan is borne out of an exercise of (the) right to self-determination. ... It would be unwise for military officers to say 'there is a takeover.'"
South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in July 2011. The move came six months after a referendum agreed to under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war that left more than 2 million people dead.
Distrust between the neighbours runs deep and tensions erupted into fighting along the border in April, when South Sudan's army briefly occupied the Heglig oilfield, which is vital to Sudan's economy.
The two countries agreed late last month to set up a demilitarized border zone and resume oil exports from the landlocked south after South Sudan shut them down in a dispute with Sudan over transit fees.
The deal failed to resolve problems including where to draw the final border, what to do with the disputed Abyei area and how to end rebellions in both countries that each government blames the other for backing.
Machar said the government was working to resolve a small two-year-old revolt in eastern Jonglei state that has been further fuelled by a heavy-handed government bid to collect thousands of weapons left from the civil war.
Rights groups have accused the army of shooting, torturing and raping people during the campaign.
"All those who committed atrocities were apprehended," Machar said of those allegations. "It did cause resentment. ... We are concerned about it. That area is developmentally backward. We want it to join the rest of South Sudan in development instead of being theatre for conflict."
"We don't want to start a new state with a rebellion," he said of efforts to reach peace in the east.
Machar accused Sudan of recently air dropping weapons to the rebels. He said he hopes with the "new mood" between the neighbours that led to the oil and border zone deal last month Sudan "will stop meddling in the affairs of South Sudan."
Sudan's government and military routinely deny South Sudan's accusations that Sudan is backing insurgencies.
Machar said he had been meeting with investors in New York to urge them to spend in South Sudan, one of the world's poorest countries, on agriculture to make the state the "breadbasket for East Africa."
"Our people, their expectations are so high, so great, that with the declaration of independence they want South Sudan to be at the same level with neighbouring countries," he said. "This is our biggest challenge."
Copyright © 2012 Reuters
|You are subscribed to email updates from The Star Online: World Updates |
To stop receiving these emails, you may unsubscribe now.
|Email delivery powered by Google|
|Google Inc., 20 West Kinzie, Chicago IL USA 60610|