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Campaign Notebook

Romney targets Obama over Pakistan

DES MOINES -- Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney said Friday that Democrat Barack Obama's warning to Pakistani leaders that he might use force to root out terrorists in that country were "ill-considered" and could hamper America's ability to build a coalition of countries against terrorism.

Romney spoke at a luncheon meeting of young Republicans in Des Moines and later with reporters who asked for his reaction to Obama's comments.

In a speech this week, the senator from Illinois issued a warning to Pakistani leaders that if they didn't improve their efforts targeting terrorists who use that country as a sanctuary, the United States might intervene with force.

Instead of issuing threats, the United States should work with nations to root out extremist forces, Romney said.

"We want as a civilized world to participate with other nations in this civilized effort to help those nations reject the extreme within them," Romney said. "That doesn't mean that our troops are going to go all over the world."

Romney said the remarks were not helpful to the American effort.

"I think his comments were ill-timed and ill-considered," Romney said.

Both the US State Department and high-ranking Pakistani officials took exception Friday to recent foreign policy statements by Obama and other Democratic and Republican presidential candidates that could complicate US efforts to overcome deep suspicion about the war on terrorism in the Muslim world.


Iraq timetable decried
BEAVERCREEK, Ohio -- Republican rivals Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney found common ground on Friday in their aversion to Democrats' support for a timetable for withdrawing US troops from Iraq.

"We have to not give the terrorists a victory in Iraq. I do not understand why the Democrats want to legislate loss in Iraq," Giuliani told reporters during a campaign stop at a bookstore in this Dayton suburb.

"I don't understand why they voted to give the enemy a timetable of our retreat, which I thought was just plain dangerous," Giuliani said, referring to congressional attempts to impose a timetable for troop withdrawal.

Campaigning in Des Moines, Romney said that while he doesn't think the United States should maintain a long-term presence in Iraq, it shouldn't set a timetable for withdrawing troops, either.

However, Romney added: "Our objective should be to have Iraq and their own security forces to care for the country and provide their own security. . . . I do not believe this is a setting like Korea where we would have 25,000 to 50,000 American troops permanently stationed in Iraq."

Multiple national polls show Giuliani, former New York City mayor, with a significant lead over other contenders for the Republican nomination, but most polls of Iowa and New Hampshire voters show him trailing Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, in those states.


News Corp. vs. Edwards
WASHINGTON -- Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is fighting back against Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and his criticism of the media empire, pointing out that the 2004 vice presidential nominee was paid $500,000 by one of its companies.

HarperCollins, which is owned by News Corp., paid Edwards a $500,000 advance for his book, "Home: The Blueprints of Our Lives," and was given another $300,000 to pay expenses. News Corp. spokesman Andrew Butcher said Friday that Edwards also got $120,000 for a publicity tour.

Edwards responded angrily to the revelation, saying he gave the advance to charity and the figure was part of a confidential agreement that News Corp. had no authority to disclose.

The deal was reported by the Murdoch-owned New York Post on Friday, a day after Edwards challenged his rivals to return political donations from News Corp. executives. Edwards said the Fox News Channel, owned by News Corp., has a right-wing bias and he is concerned about Murdoch's purchase this week of Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

Edwards's criticism was chiefly aimed at Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has taken more than $20,000 in donations from Murdoch and other News Corp. executives.


Air traffic concerns
JOHNSTON, Iowa -- Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee on Friday said the nation's air traffic control system is near "the point of collapse," as he turned his focus to transportation systems after the deadly highway collapse in Minneapolis.

Huckabee said the nation's air traffic control system is outdated and poses a potential disaster.

"The technology we're using to run the air traffic control system was developed in 1950," Huckabee said. "We now have more sophisticated navigation systems in rental cars than we do running the airport system."

The former Arkansas governor said the number of aircraft has increased 10 times since the system was designed.

"We are just about at the point of collapse in our air traffic control system," said Huckabee, who was speaking during a taping of Iowa Public Television's "Iowa Press" program.