Washington Extra – ‘Wild ride’ ends

May 3, 2012

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (L) and his wife, Callista walk together after he suspended his bid for the GOP presidential nomination in Arlington, Virginia, May 2, 2012. REUTERS/Larry Downing

The sharpest debater in the 2012 field of Republican presidential candidates exited the race touting a hodgepodge of initiatives that made his failed race so colorful. 

“Suspending the campaign does not mean suspending citizenship,” Newt Gingrich warned in his long-awaited announcement that he was quitting. He then ticked off the vision of America he will continue to pursue as a private citizen:

His fabled U.S. colony on the Moon, holograms in houses, cures for diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, not to mention a national energy policy/balanced budget that would free the United States from “radical Islam, Saudi kings and Chinese bondholders.”

The bombastic former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives brought an element of unpredictability to the Republican presidential nominating contest. His come-from-behind victory in South Carolina in January briefly led some to wonder whether Mitt Romney really could be knocked off.

Not so. As primary defeats began to pile up, Gingrich’s  campaign became less about his big ideas and more about the St. Louis zoo penguin who had the nerve to peck at the hand of this notorious animal lover.

“It was a truly wild ride,” a tired-looking Gingrich said as he bowed out, refusing to answer reporters’ questions.

Here are our top stories from Washington…

Gingrich formally ends tumultuous White House bid – Newt Gingrich ended his tumultuous run for president after dazzling in televised debates but winning only two of the dozens of nominating contests in the Republican primary race. Gingrich dropped his White House bid with an announcement in Arlington, Virginia, although he had not been campaigning properly for weeks after plunging in polls and cutting staff.  For more of this story, read here.

Dissident to stay in China, Beijing denounces US meddling – Blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng left the U.S. Embassy in Beijing after securing guarantees that he could live in safety with his family in China, but he quickly appeared to have second thoughts. Under a deal described by U.S. officials, China committed to allow Chen to be relocated within the country along with his family and to study at a university, an outcome that would have kept him a pivotal figure in China-U.S. relations. However, within hours of his release to a Beijing hospital and being reunited with his wife, Chen gave interviews saying he feared for his life after he learned of the way his wife had been treated and he now wanted to leave the country. For more of this story by Andrew Quinn and Chris Buckley, read here.

Treasury still mulling floating-rate debt sales – The Treasury Department sees a strong market for floating-rate notes that would give it a new tool for managing the government’s borrowing needs but is putting off a decision for now on selling them, a senior official said. Financial markets were watching for the Treasury to announce at a scheduled quarterly refunding press conference that it would begin issuing floating-rate debt. But it said it was still analyzing feedback and wouldn’t say when it will decide. For more of this story by Glenn Somerville and Jason Lange, read here.

US charges more than 100 in Medicare fraud schemes – U.S. authorities have charged 107 people including doctors and nurses for trying to defraud the federal Medicare healthcare program for the elderly and disabled of about $452 million, the Obama administration said. At least 75 people in Miami, Houston and Baton Rouge were charged during the last two days for submitting false billing for home health care, mental health services, HIV infusions and physical therapy, among other charges. For more of this story by Jeremy Pelofsky, read here.

From elsewhere…

Inside Chesapeake, CEO ran $200 million hedge fund – As chairman and CEO of Chesapeake, Aubrey McClendon has been a powerhouse in the vast U.S. natural gas market, directing the company’s multibillion dollar energy-trading operation and setting output targets for America’s second-largest producer. Behind the scenes, McClendon also ran a lucrative business on the side: a $200 million hedge fund that traded in the same commodities Chesapeake produces.  For more of this special report by Joshua Schneyer, Jeanine Prezioso and David Sheppard, read here.

Suicide bombers kill 7 after Obama leaves Afghan capital – Suicide bombers attacked a compound housing Westerners in Kabul hours after President Obama signed a security pact during a short visit to a city that remains vulnerable to a resilient insurgency. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which involved a car bomb and insurgents disguised as women on the eastern outskirts of the capital, killing seven people, a Gurkha guard and six passers-by, and wounding 17. For more of this story, read here.

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