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Campaign Notebook

3 senators call for regional primaries for 2012 election

Speaking yesterday in Rochester, N.H., Rudy Giuliani described his healthcare proposal, which features a $15,000 tax deduction for families to buy private insurance. Speaking yesterday in Rochester, N.H., Rudy Giuliani described his healthcare proposal, which features a $15,000 tax deduction for families to buy private insurance. (Jim Cole/associated press)

WASHINGTON -- Three senators, seeking to reverse a trend toward early presidential primaries, introduced legislation yesterday that would create regional primaries for the 2012 election.

Democrat Amy Klobuchar, independent Joseph I. Lieberman, and Republican Lamar Alexander said the nomination process is broken in part because 31 states have set presidential primaries before March 1, up from 11 states in 2000.

"Media and money are making decisions voters ought to make," said Alexander, of Tennessee.

States are scheduling their primaries earlier to build interest and ensure their voters participate before the nominees are selected.

The proposed legislation would break the country into four areas, which would take turns having the first set of primaries. Iowa and New Hampshire would remain as the nation's first caucus and first primary. The first region would hold presidential primaries the week of the first Tuesday in March, while the next three regions would hold their contests during the week of the first Tuesdays in April, May, and June.


Giuliani touts health plan
ROCHESTER, N.H. -- Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani offered a consumer-oriented solution yesterday to the nation's healthcare woes that relies on giving individuals tax credits to purchase private insurance.

Critical to Giuliani's plan is a $15,000 tax deduction for families to buy private health insurance, instead of getting insurance through employers. Any leftover funds could be rolled over year to year for medical expenses.

Giuliani said his goal is to give individuals more control over their healthcare. The former New York mayor said that as more people buy plans, insurers will drop their prices, making insurance affordable to those who lack it now.

Asked how much his plan would cost and how many of the uninsured it would help, Giuliani said he won't have those answers for two or three months.


Tancredo offer clarified
WASHINGTON -- Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo promised a package of gifts, including an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington and a tour of the Capitol, to anyone who brings 25 people to the GOP straw poll in Iowa on Aug. 11.

There was one problem with the pitch -- a tour of the Capitol could be a violation of House ethics rules, which prohibit the use of any buildings on the Capitol grounds for campaign purposes.

Scrambling to explain, the Colorado lawmaker's campaign said it was just a spelling error.

Bay Buchanan, Tancredo's national chairwoman, said yesterday that she meant supporters would get a tour of the capital city -- spelled with an "a" -- that could also include a "public tour" of the Capitol building.

"He's not offering them anything any American doesn't have access to," she said. "The difference is that Tom will be joining them. There are public tours of the US Capitol."


Brownback wants apology
WASHINGTON -- Republican presidential hopeful Sam Brownback said rival Mike Huckabee should apologize for a supporter's "prejudiced whisper campaign" against Brownback for being Catholic.

The supporter, a pastor in Windsor Heights, Iowa, sent an e-mail to Brownback supporters pointing out that Huckabee is an evangelical Protestant and Brownback is not. Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, is an ordained Baptist minister.

"I know Senator Brownback converted to Roman Catholicism in 2002," the Rev. Tim Rude, pastor of Walnut Creek Community Church, wrote in the e-mail. "Frankly, as a recovering Catholic myself, that is all I need to know about his discernment when compared to the governor's."

In the e-mail, Rude calls Huckabee "one of us."

Rude apologized yesterday, saying he never meant to sound critical of Catholicism.


Clinton pushes for war kin
WASHINGTON -- Senator Hillary Clinton launched an effort yesterday to double the amount of time relatives of wounded war veterans can take off from work to help them recover.

Clinton rounded up a bipartisan group of senators seeking to extend family leave time for spouses or parents of seriously wounded troops from 12 weeks to six months.

The lawmakers are trying to make the change as an amendment to a children's health insurance bill now working its way through Congress.

"We don't have to spend any money, we don't have to build any bureaucracy, we just have to give these families the right to care for their loved one," Clinton said.