WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A motorcycle police officer escorting President Barack Obama’s motorcade has died after being hit by a pickup truck.
Palm Beach County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Teri Barbera says the Jupiter police officer was on Interstate 95 Sunday afternoon preparing to shut the roadway down when he was struck by a Ford F-150.
He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. His identity has not been released.
Barbera says an investigation is ongoing and no charges have yet been filed against the driver.
Obama made a campaign appearance at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.
White House press secretary Jay Carney says the president was notified of the officer’s death and “our thoughts and prayers are with the officer’s family.”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
FORT PIERCE, Fla. (AP) — If President Barack Obama was looking for a lift in Florida, he got one from Scott Van Duzer.
The 46-year-old, six-foot-three Republican gave Obama a bear hug, raising him off the ground as Obama marveled at the man’s strength — and enthusiasm.
Van Duzer owns the Big Apple Pizza and Pasta Italian Restaurant where Obama stopped on Sunday during a Florida bus swing. He also runs a foundation that helps collect blood for the ill; he has received White House commendations for his work.
As he entered, Obama admired Van Duzer’s biceps, saying “Look at these guns!”
Said Obama: “The guy’s just got a big heart, along with big pecs.”
Of his embrace, Van Duzer said: “I was overwhelmed when I saw him.”
He said Obama had his vote.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who promised early in his campaign to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, says he would keep several important parts of the overhaul.
“Of course there are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I’m going to put in place,” he said in an interview broadcast Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage.”
Romney also said he would allow young adults to keep their coverage under their parents’ health-insurance.
Those provisions have been two of the more popular parts of Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
“I say we’re going to replace Obamacare. And I’m replacing it with my own plan,” Romney said. “And even in Massachusetts when I was governor, our plan there deals with pre-existing conditions and with young people.”
In the interview, Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, also said he would offset his proposed tax cuts by closing loopholes for high income taxpayers.
“We’re not going to have high-income people pay less of the tax burden than they pay today. That’s not what’s going to happen,” he said.
When pressed, however, Romney declined to provide an example of a loophole he would close.
“I can tell you that people at the high end, high-income taxpayers, are going to have fewer deductions and exemptions. Those numbers are going to come down. Otherwise they’d get a tax break. And I want to make sure people understand, despite what the Democrats said at their convention, I am not reducing taxes on high-income taxpayers,” Romney said.
Romney also defended his decision to say nothing about the war in Afghanistan or the U.S. troops serving there during his acceptance speech last month at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
He said that he’d been to Afghanistan and the troops “know of my commitment.”
“I have some differences on policy with the president. I happen to think those are more important than what word I mention in each speech,” he said.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Obama says that Republicans are calling for tax cuts to solve every problem. While he supported breaks for the middle class, he says he doesn’t believe tax cuts for the wealthy would generate jobs or pay down the deficit.
Obama say job gains in the manufacturing sector over the last two years have reversed a decade of declines. He says the nation needs to invest in job training and education because it’s the gateway to a middle-class life.
On foreign policy, Obama accused Republican challenger Mitt Romney of wanting to take the nation back to what he called an era of blustering and blundering.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
For President Barack Obama, hope has become hang in there.
On the biggest stage of his re-election bid, Obama is dropping some tough love on voters, offering no fast solutions for a nation whose spirit has been sapped by economic insecurity.
“You didn’t elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear,” Obama said in excerpts of the speech he was delivering Thursday evening at the Democratic National Convention.
“You elected me,” he said, “to tell you the truth.”
The message was reminiscent of the night Obama won the presidency four years ago, when supporters reveled around him, but his words of change in America were tempered by caution about how long and hard the climb back to prosperity would be. It has indeed been that hard, so much that Obama is using his address this time to reach back to the Great Depression.
Calling his first term a mere start, Obama reached for Americans to join him in a “bold, persistent experimentation that Franklin Roosevelt pursued during the only crisis worse than this one.”
The substance of the new Obama deal consists of the economic pillars of Obama’s campaign: manufacturing, energy, education, national security and debt reduction.
Even though it was Obama who said just this week that “a convention speech is never a State of the Union speech,” the outline released in advance by his campaign sure looked like one, right down to specific policy goals such as recruiting 100,000 math and science teachers over the next 10 years.
For a nation short on job security, this is Obama’s night to protect his own. He speaks to a television of audience of millions in the 10 p.m. EDT hour.
Obama’s speech will be about promise — the kind he’ll say he has kept, and the kind of feeling he wants to stir once more. He will take people back to the start of his presidency to make a case why their lives are better, but his bigger imperative is to sell himself as better for middle-class America than Republican Mitt Romney.
Gone is the newness of the last time he stood up to accept the nomination of his party. Obama, the graying incumbent, will not try to recreate it.
Instead, he will whittle the election down to a choice, spelling out his vision of how to create economic opportunity for all, and warning that Romney would restore trickle-down ideas that Obama says were quietly gutting the economy for years before crashing it completely.
Obama will also try to summon inspiration again that America is right on the cusp of what it could be.
Campaigns can thrive or die on voter passions, and Romney had his shot at this first. At his own convention last week, he told a TV audience of millions that it was a telling sign if many people’s best feelings about Obama peaked the moment they voted for him.
Gone, too, is the setting Obama wanted for the biggest address of his re-election bid.
Democrats opted for their convention’s rented basketball arena instead of a much larger, open-air football stadium for Obama, wary of the safety and political risks if rain came pouring down.
Yet tighter, packed quarters of energized supporters could present just the optics Obama wants on TV. He must give his backers and undecided voters a reason to mobilize behind him.
It worked on Wednesday night for former President Bill Clinton, and for first lady Michelle Obama the night before that.
In a nation in which more than 23 million people are unemployed or underemployed, Obama will focus instead on the millions who have found work, and how many more can, too.
As Clinton put it: “No president — not me, not any of my predecessors — no one could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years. But he has laid the foundations for a new, modern, successful economy of shared prosperity. And if you will renew the president’s contract, you will feel it.”
Expect him to talk about ending the war in Iraq and promising to close the still-raging war in Afghanistan, particularly after mocking Romney for never addressing the latter in his own convention speech. Every speaker at the Democratic convention has contributed to the collective message that Obama wants to send of a diverse party that protects gay rights and women’s reproductive rights.
Yet it all comes back to the economy, Obama’s biggest burden.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Former Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, grievously wounded in a January 2011 assassination attempt, led Democrats in the Pledge of Allegiance on Thursday as they opened the final day of their political convention.
Giffords walked uneasily onstage, relying on Democratic National Committee Chair—and close friend—Debbie Wasserman Schultz for support, as the crowd chanted “Gabby! Gabby!” Her appearance onstage at Time Warner Cable Arena brought cheering Democrats to their feet for a standing ovation.
As she led the crowd in the pledge in a strong voice, Giffords held her right hand over her heart with her left. She won more cheers when she blew a kiss to the crowd. Cameras showed delegates weeping as they clapped.
Even as the two women disappeared backstage, the crowd began chanting “fired up, ready to go.”
Copyright © 2012 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.
First Lady Michelle Obama ~ DNC Speech Video: ‘Barack knows the American dream because he’s lived it’
CHARLOTTE—First Lady Michelle Obama never once mentioned Mitt Romney’s name. But in her speech before the Democratic National Convention speech Monday night, she offered a dramatic contrast between her husband, Barack Obama, and his Republican opponent, insisting he understands the struggles of average Americans because he’s lived through those tough times, too.
“Barack knows the American Dream because he’s lived it, and he wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are, or where we’re from, or what we look like, or who we love,” Michelle Obama said. “He believes that when you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.”
It was a speech meant to bolster her husband’s legislative accomplishments — and it did, as the first lady touted the president’s push for health care reform, the auto industry bailout and efforts to keep down student loan interest rates.
But not unlike Ann Romney’s speech on behalf of her husband at last week’s Republican National Convention, Michelle Obama also sought to humanize the president, and to remind voters of the working class background she and her husband came from. With tears in her eyes, she spoke of her father, a pump operator at a Chicago water plant, and how her husband was raised by a single mother and by his grandparents.
“We learned about dignity and decency — that how hard you work matters more than how much you make, that helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself. We learned about honesty and integrity; that the truth matters; that you don’t take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules, and success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square,” she said. “We learned about gratitude and humility; that so many people had a hand in our success, from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean, and we were taught to value everyone’s contribution and treat everyone with respect.”
“After so many struggles and triumphs and moments that have tested my husband in ways I never could have imagined, I have seen firsthand that being president doesn’t change who you are — it reveals who you are,” said Michelle Obama. “As president, you can get all kinds of advice from all kinds of people. But at the end of the day, when it comes time to make that decision, as president, all you have to guide you are your values, and your vision, and the life experiences that make you who you are.”
Her husband, she said, “is thinking about folks like my dad and his grandmother” and is “thinking about the pride that comes from a hard day’s work.” It was a line meant to push back against Romney’s claims that Obama doesn’t understand how to create jobs because he’s never worked in the private sector. But it also offered a subtle contrast between her husband and Romney, who came from a well-off background.
She spoke of the student loan debts they incurred as a young married couple: “We were so young, so in love, and so in debt,” she said.
And she spoke of her husband’s skills as a father — which she insisted have been unchanged even despite the pressures of the presidency.
“People ask me whether being in the White House has changed my husband, I can honestly say that when it comes to his character, and his convictions, and his heart, Barack Obama is still the same man I fell in love with all those years ago,” she said, her eyes wet with tears.
Pushing back against GOP charges that her husband is driven by politics, Obama insisted there is no “us and them” for the president, that “he doesn’t care whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican or none of the above.”
She told voters her husband never lets himself “get distracted by the chatter and the noise.” He just keeps “getting up and moving forward,” she said.
“He reminds me that we are playing a long game here, and that change is hard, and change is slow, and it never happens all at once,” she said. “Many of us stand here tonight because of their sacrifice, and longing, and steadfast love because time and again, they swallowed their fears and doubts and did what was hard.”
That has been the story of the American dream, the first lady said. “That is what has made my story, and Barack’s story, and so many other American stories possible.”
Video Link: Lunch Lady Fined For Feeding Hungry Children
Lunch lady Angela Prattis thought she was just doing God’s work, handing out free lunches to hungry children in a Pennsylvania neighborhood. But even acts of altruism, it seems, must bow to red tape.
National outrage has erupted after Prattis found herself running afoul of Chester Township zoning laws and threatened with a $600 fine if she continued, according to NBC10 Philadelphia.
Moreover, she faces a $1,000 fee if she wants to continue performing her good deeds, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The lunch lady, who is also a youth pastor at her church, was told that she needed a township zoning permit continue to hand out lunches outside her home. And the approval process requires an official hearing. And that hearing would cost her $1,000, the Inquirer reported.
It was enough to raise questions about whether Prattis could continue her work. She is a married mother of three and also a trained volunteer with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Nutritional Development Services, which supplies the food she gives out, according to the Inquirer.
The food is paid for by the state, according to the Inquirer, which also reported that program representatives had inspected and approved Prattis’ operation.
The stalemate has prompted an outpouring of support. So far, several in the community offered to cover the $1,000 bill. She has received dozens of calls from others offering to do whatever is needed to keep the lunch lady on the job, and a law firm has also offered to represent her for free.
Prattis told the Inquirer that she’s grateful for the offers but has not taken any money yet because she’s still hoping authorities will waive the fee.
The Inquirer said it spoke to the township’s acting solicitor, Murray Eckell, who acknowledged that the incident is giving local government a black eye. But he said the township is in a difficult position.
“Suppose a child gets hurt on her property,” Eckell was quoted as saying. “Will the family sue the township? What if somebody gets food poisoning?
“What she is doing is commendable…. But if we don’t have laws, there’s chaos. It’s a difficult situation for the township to be in.”
NBC10 says Prattis plans to attend the next township meeting in a bid to clear up the controversy, but until then she plans to continue feeding children.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — They got hitched while still in their teens, divorced 20 years and four children later, and are getting remarried after nearly a half-century apart.
For Lena Henderson and Roland Davis, both 85 years old, the second time around is finally here. The couple plans to get married again on Saturday, with four generations on hand to see it happen.
“It’s every child’s dream, every child who has ever been in a family where divorce has occurred, that your parents would come back together,” their youngest daughter, Renita Chadwick, said Tuesday as wedding preparations were in full swing.
“We are all so ridiculously excited. We’re like little children again,” said Chadwick, herself a grandmother.
Henderson and Davis met as teenagers in Chattanooga, Tenn., and were married by a justice of the peace. There was no reception or honeymoon.
“Oh no,” Henderson recalled with a laugh. “He went to work and I went home.” Davis was a hotel bellhop at the time, about to begin a career in the military.
This time around, a church wedding is planned, at Elim Christian Fellowship Church in Buffalo, followed by a reception at an Amherst restaurant.
Still no honeymoon trip, though.
“I’m just happy that we’re here,” said Davis, who recently moved to suburban Buffalo from Colorado, where he was living alone following the death of his second wife in January. Henderson also was widowed after re-marrying.
Davis proposed to Henderson over the phone around Easter and she accepted, even though they hadn’t seen each other since a family funeral in 1996. Before that, the two hadn’t been face-to-face since splitting up in 1964, though they had stayed in touch and kept up with each other’s lives through the children.
Their oldest daughter, Johnnie Mae Funderbirk, had been urging her father to return to New York since his wife’s death.
Davis was receptive, especially to the idea of reconnecting with Henderson.
“I had always kind of had that in mind, mostly because of the children,” he said. “You never forget someone that you cared for at one time or another.”
Henderson and Davis both said it was “nice” to see one another again, this time as an engaged couple.
The children are less reserved.
“I’m as excited as some 9-year-old whose parents are getting back together,” Funderbirk said, “and I’m 65 years old.”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.