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Politics in brief: Huckabee returns fire on clemency

Republican Mike Huckabee on Wednesday defended his handling of requests for clemency when he was Arkansas governor and in turn accused Mitt Romney of denying such requests to protect his political future.

Huckabee has surged into first place in Iowa and ahead of Romney, who had held a comfortable lead in the state for months. Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, recently started running a television ad that accuses Huckabee of passing out pardons to hardened criminals while he was governor.

Opening his latest Iowa campaign swing on Wednesday, Huckabee defended his handling of requests for clemency.

Turning the tables, Huckabee pointed to Romney’s denial in Massachusetts of the request for pardon from an Iraq war veteran who was trying to become a police officer after his National Guard service. Anthony Circosta’s offense was that, as a 13-year-old, he shot a friend in the arm with a BB gun.

Huckabee accused Romney of denying the request for political reasons.


Edwards seeks edge on poverty issue

Democrat John Edwards said Wednesday he’s the presidential candidate who’s made fighting poverty the cause of his life, trying to lay claim to the issue as the first voting of the 2008 campaign nears.

The nation’s millions of poor people have not been a major focus of the campaign. But with Edwards, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama in a tight race in leadoff Iowa, the others don’t want to let the former North Carolina senator have the issue by himself.

Earlier Wednesday, Clinton said in Iowa that people – she didn’t name anyone – “talk about poverty in this campaign.” But “we,” she said, referring to husband Bill Clinton’s presidency – “lifted more people out of poverty during the 1990s than at any time in our history.”

Edwards, in New Hampshire, said Clinton’s remark was “a veiled reference to me,” and he took issue with it.

“She said something about people talking about poverty, but you know, what are we going to do about it?” Edwards said to reporters. “Let me just be clear, ending poverty in this country is the cause of my life and I am completely committed to it.”


Paul keeps donation from supremacist

Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul has received a $500 campaign donation from a white supremacist, and the Texas congressman doesn’t plan to return it, an aide said Wednesday.

Don Black, of West Palm Beach, recently made the donation, according to campaign filings. He runs a Web site called Stormfront with the motto, “White Pride World Wide.”

“Dr. Paul stands for freedom, peace, prosperity and inalienable rights. If someone with small ideologies happens to contribute money to Ron, thinking he can influence Ron in any way, he’s wasted his money,” Paul spokesman Jesse Benton said. “Ron is going to take the money and try to spread the message of freedom.”


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Toxic cloud caused by Hawaii volcano lava emerges over ocean

new  White plumes of acid and extremely fine shards of glass billowed into the sky over Hawaii as molten rock from Kilauea volcano poured into the ocean, creating yet another hazard from an eruption that began more than two weeks ago: A toxic steam cloud.