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Paul joins race for 2008 GOP nomination

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-NY, visits the GrandParent Family Apartments, Monday, March 12, 2007, in the Bronx section of New York, to announce she has introduced legislation to provide assistance to the growing numbers of grandparents and other relatives raising children. (AP Photo/Diane Bondareff)

HOUSTON --Ron Paul, a nine-term Texas congressman who describes himself as a lifelong libertarian, announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination Monday.

Appearing on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal," Paul said he was at first reluctant to run, but that "a lot of people want to hear my message and I'm willing to deliver it."

Paul, who formed an exploratory committee in January, said he has raised more than $500,000 in the past month "with very little effort."

"So far, the amount of money raised isn't competitive with those establishment candidates who will raise $100 million, but with the Internet and the amount of money and enthusiasm, I think we can become very competitive," he said.

Paul, who also ran for the White House as a Libertarian Party candidate in 1988, recently spent three days campaigning in New Hampshire. He is planning campaign trips to Arizona and Iowa, and said he expects to be included in any GOP debates.

An obstetrician-gynecologist from just south of Houston, Paul is ideologically far afield from the Republican mainstream. He has acknowledged that he has been largely shunned by the national party.

Among other differences with his party's base, Paul has criticized President Bush for acting unconstitutionally in sending U.S. troops to Iraq and has said he would support an investigation into whether Bush "deliberately misrepresented" his reasons for doing so.

"I'm very confident the Republican party has gone in the wrong direction," Paul said in his C-SPAN appearance. "We used to be the party of small government. Now we're the party of big government."

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani picked up an endorsement Monday from Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, who said he's backing the former New York City mayor even though he disagrees with his stances on social issues.

"Rudy has the strong unwavering leadership and sound judgment that we so clearly need in this time of war and terrorist threats," Vitter said at a news conference with Giuliani.

The ex-mayor is sitting atop national polls for the GOP nomination, and is trying to maintain his lead by convincing Republican voters that they should support him even though he is pro-choice, pro-gun control and pro-gay rights.

To allay concerns, the former New York City mayor has emphasized that he would appoint federal judges who "strictly interpret" the constitution, another pet issue of conservatives.

Vitter's endorsement was meant to validate Giuliani's case.

"Obviously, I disagree with Rudy on some significant social issues, and these are very important to me and to many of the people I represent," Vitter said. However, he said, after numerous meetings with Giuliani, "it's very clear to me that he's not running for president to advance any liberal social agenda."

Vitter said any concerns of his were alleviated by Giuliani's stance on judges.

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday denounced oil giant Halliburton's planned relocation to Dubai.

"I think it raises a lot of very big concerns and we're going to be looking into it in Washington," the New York senator said at a news conference in the Bronx. "I think it's disgraceful that American companies are more than happy to try to get no-bid contracts like Halliburton has, and then turn around and say, 'You know, we're not going to stay.'"

On Saturday, Halliburton CEO Dave Lesar announced that the conglomerate's headquarters would move from Houston to Dubai, a booming city in the United Arab Emirates known for its liberal tax and residency laws. Lesar said the company's business was now largely based in the Middle East and Asia.

Halliburton, which was headed by Vice President Dick Cheney from 1995-2000, received several lucrative no-bid government contracts to manage the reconstruction of Iraq following the U.S.-led invasion there. Last month, federal investigators alleged Halliburton was responsible for $2.7 billion of the $10 billion in contractor waste and overcharging in Iraq.

In 2006, Halliburton earned profits of $2.3 billion on revenues of $22.6 billion.

"We have a lot of evidence about their misuse of government contracts and how they have cheated the American soldier, cheated the American taxpayer, they have taken money and not provided the services," said Clinton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "So, does moving overseas mean that we won't be able to pursue these investigations?"

Halliburton spokeswoman Melissa Norcross said the company did not expect to receive any tax benefits from the Dubai move and that it would comply with U.S. government oversight.

"With the addition of a corporate headquarters office in Dubai, we join the ranks of many major corporations with multiple centers of senior management," Norcross said.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- "I believe Fred Thompson should run for president," former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Monday.

Frist, a Tennessee Republican who abandoned his own presidential ambitions in November, wrote on his blog that Thompson is "a genuine leader."

"Fred understands real people and they understand him," Frist said. "He understands the legislative process and has a strong bipartisan appeal, though he is a real conservative."

Thompson, who plays the character Arthur Branch on NBC's drama "Law & Order," was elected to the Senate in 1994 to fill the unexpired term of Vice President Al Gore. He left the Senate in 2003 to resume his acting career.

He told "Fox News Sunday" that he is "giving some thought" to running for president.

Thompson, 64, said he was pondering a run after former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker and other Tennessee Republicans began drumming up support for his possible GOP candidacy, citing his conservative credentials.

Said Frist, "I've not talked with Fred personally about a potential run, so I am basing my thoughts simply on knowing him well, having worked with him in policy and politics everyday for eight years, and knowing the people across America want a genuine leader who represents them."

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Associated Press writers Liz Sidoti in Washington, Beth Fouhy in New York and Erik Schelzig in Nashville contributed to this report.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday denounced oil giant Halliburton's planned relocation to Dubai.

"I think it raises a lot of very big concerns and we're going to be looking into it in Washington," the New York senator said at a news conference in the Bronx. "I think it's disgraceful that American companies are more than happy to try to get no-bid contracts like Halliburton has, and then turn around and say, 'You know, we're not going to stay.'"

On Saturday, Halliburton CEO Dave Lesar announced that the conglomerate's headquarters would move from Houston to Dubai, a booming city in the United Arab Emirates known for its liberal tax and residency laws. Lesar said the company's business was now largely based in the Middle East and Asia.

Halliburton, which was headed by Vice President Dick Cheney from 1995-2000, received several lucrative no-bid government contracts to manage the reconstruction of Iraq following the U.S.-led invasion there. Last month, federal investigators alleged Halliburton was responsible for $2.7 billion of the $10 billion in contractor waste and overcharging in Iraq.

In 2006, Halliburton earned profits of $2.3 billion on revenues of $22.6 billion.

"We have a lot of evidence about their misuse of government contracts and how they have cheated the American soldier, cheated the American taxpayer, they have taken money and not provided the services," said Clinton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "So, does moving overseas mean that we won't be able to pursue these investigations?"

Halliburton spokeswoman Melissa Norcross said the company did not expect to receive any tax benefits from the Dubai move and that it would comply with U.S. government oversight.

"With the addition of a corporate headquarters office in Dubai, we join the ranks of many major corporations with multiple centers of senior management," Norcross said.

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HOUSTON (AP) -- Ron Paul, a nine-term Texas congressman who describes himself as a lifelong libertarian, announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination Monday.

Appearing on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal," Paul said he was at first reluctant to run, but that "a lot of people want to hear my message and I'm willing to deliver it."

Paul, who formed an exploratory committee in January, said he has raised more than $500,000 in the past month "with very little effort."

"So far, the amount of money raised isn't competitive with those establishment candidates who will raise $100 million, but with the Internet and the amount of money and enthusiasm, I think we can become very competitive," he said.

Paul, who also ran for the White House as a Libertarian Party candidate in 1988, recently spent three days campaigning in New Hampshire. He is planning campaign trips to Arizona and Iowa, and said he expects to be included in any GOP debates.

An obstetrician-gynecologist from just south of Houston, Paul is ideologically far afield from the Republican mainstream. He has acknowledged that he has been largely shunned by the national party.

Among other differences with his party's base, Paul has criticized President Bush for acting unconstitutionally in sending U.S. troops to Iraq and has said he would support an investigation into whether Bush "deliberately misrepresented" his reasons for doing so.

"I'm very confident the Republican party has gone in the wrong direction," Paul said in his C-SPAN appearance. "We used to be the party of small government. Now we're the party of big government."

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani picked up an endorsement Monday from Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, who said he's backing the former New York City mayor even though he disagrees with his stances on social issues.

"Rudy has the strong unwavering leadership and sound judgment that we so clearly need in this time of war and terrorist threats," Vitter said at a news conference with Giuliani.

The ex-mayor is sitting atop national polls for the GOP nomination, and is trying to maintain his lead by convincing Republican voters that they should support him even though he is pro-choice, pro-gun control and pro-gay rights.

To allay concerns, the former New York City mayor has emphasized that he would appoint federal judges who "strictly interpret" the constitution, another pet issue of conservatives.

Vitter's endorsement was meant to validate Giuliani's case.

"Obviously, I disagree with Rudy on some significant social issues, and these are very important to me and to many of the people I represent," Vitter said. However, he said, after numerous meetings with Giuliani, "it's very clear to me that he's not running for president to advance any liberal social agenda."

Vitter said any concerns of his were alleviated by Giuliani's stance on judges.

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Associated Press Writers Liz Sidoti in Washington and Beth Fouhy in New York contributed to this report.

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