Washington Extra – Keeping it positive, not

January 4, 2012

It’s a cruel world out there, what with these Super PACs. Just ask Newt Gingrich, the candidate who promised to stick to the positive message. Battered by weeks of negative ads from a Super PAC and plummeting poll numbers, Gingrich took a sharp detour off the high road in the final hours of campaigning in Iowa.

Gingrich called putative Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney a liar because he tries to distance himself from the ad-spewing PAC created by Romney staff and funded by his millionaire friends. “It’s baloney,” Gingrich said.

Romney in turn mocked Gingrich, telling him to toughen up and get some broader shoulders. “If you can’t stand the heat of this little kitchen, wait for the hell’s kitchen that’s coming from Barack Obama,” he responded.

Romney says he is no fan of the Super PACs. But as this presidential race kicks off tonight, those outside fundraising groups might just prove to be his best friends on the road to the nomination.

Here are our top stories from Washington…

US Republican rivals face first test of 2012 in Iowa

Republican candidates criss-crossed Iowa making late appeals to voters, with polls giving at least three – Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul – a shot at winning the first contest of the 2012 presidential campaign. Iowa’s quirky caucuses are known more for weeding out candidates than picking the future president. Finishing in a top spot could provide a big boost to any contender in the volatile contest to choose a Republican challenger to Democratic President Barack Obama in the Nov. 6 election.

For more of this story by Jane Sutton and Steve Holland, read here.

For a factbox on first three early voting states in US election, read here.

While Republicans battle, Obama never far away in Iowa

While Republican presidential candidates dominate headlines in Iowa with their caucus quest, President Barack Obama’s Democrats have quietly built a massive organizational structure to round up voters and win the state in November’s general election. Thousands of Democratic volunteers have mobilized across Iowa to garner support for Obama, who used the state as his launching pad for a White House victory four years ago.

For more of this story by Jeff Mason, read here.

Fed to publish rate-path forecasts in transparency move

The U.S. Federal Reserve said it would begin publishing forecasts on the path of interest rates later this month, a move that could suggest rates will be on hold for longer than previously expected. The move is meant to better align bets in financial markets with the views of policymakers at the central bank and is a significant milestone in Ben Bernanke’s push for greater policymaking transparency.

For more of this story by Mark Felsenthal, read here.

For a chronology of the Federal Reserve’s transparency steps, read here.

Panetta to unveil review to guide U.S. defense cuts

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will this week unveil the results of a strategic review of U.S. security interests which will guide billions of dollars in military spending cuts over the next decade, U.S. officials said. The review is expected to include a recommendation that the United States abandon its long-held goal of being able to fight and win two wars simultaneously, an Obama administration official said.

For more of this story by David Alexander and Andrea Shalal-Esa, read here.

From elsewhere…

Iran threatens U.S. Navy as sanctions hit economy

Iran threatened to take action if the U.S. Navy moves an aircraft carrier into the Gulf, Tehran’s most aggressive statement yet after weeks of sabre-rattling as new U.S. and EU financial sanctions take a toll on its economy. The United States dismissed the Iranian threat, saying it was proof that sanctions imposed over Iran’s nuclear program were working. The Pentagon said it would keep sending carrier strike groups through the Gulf regardless.

For more of this story, read here.

For more stories from our Washington correspondents visit www.reuters.com and stay informed.

Photo Credits: REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (Gingrich, Gingrich photos); REUTERS/Samantha Sais (Yard signs); REUTERS/U.S. Navy (USS John C. Stennis)

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