Romney to announce running mate Saturday at beginning of bus tour in Norfolk, Va.
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will announce his running mate Saturday morning in Norfolk, Va., his campaign said Friday night.
The short list of candidates -- if there is one -- is believed to include Ohio Rep. Rob Portman, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. In a statement issued Friday night, the Romney campaign said the running mate would be revealed at 9 a.m. EDT at the Nauticus Museum. Romney is kicking off a four-day bus tour through swing states.
Speculation has focused in recent days on Ryan, the seven-term congressman. Conservative pundits have been urging Romney to choose Ryan in large part because of his authorship of a House-backed budget plan that seeks to curb overall entitlement spending and changes Medicaid into a voucher-like system to save costs.
Pawlenty was maintaining his Saturday schedule campaigning for Romney in New Hampshire, an official close to Pawlenty's political team said. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak ahead of the formal announcement.
The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial on Thursday, praised Ryan as a strong choice for Romney: "The case for Mr. Ryan is that he best exemplifies the nature and stakes of this election. More than any other politician, the House budget chairman has defined those stakes well as a generational choice about the role of government and whether America will once again become a growth economy or sink into interest-group dominated decline."
US gasoline prices spike amid refinery problems and Mideast turmoil; risk seen for Obama
NEW YORK (AP) -- A surprise surge in gasoline prices is taking some of the fun out of summer.
The national average for a gallon of gas at the pump has climbed to $3.67, a rise of 34 cents since July 1. An increase in crude oil prices and problems with refineries and pipelines in the West Coast and Midwest, including a fire in California, are mostly to blame.
Analysts don't expect gas prices to get as high as they did in April, when 10 states passed $4 a gallon and the U.S. average topped out at $3.94. But this is still unwelcome news in this sluggish economy, since any extra money that goes to fill gas tanks doesn't get spent on movies and dinners out.
The rising prices could also put pressure on President Barack Obama in the heat of his re-election campaign.
When Phil Van Schepen recently went to fill up his dry-cleaning delivery van in Coon Rapids, Minn., he found a Post-it note a driver before him had placed on the pump faulting Obama for high gasoline prices.
Colo. suspect said to have 'intellectual and emotional maturity' in Illinois application
DENVER (AP) -- The Colorado theater shooting suspect left a good impression on people he met in his pursuit of a neuroscience career, with a reference describing him as having a "great amount of intellectual and emotional maturity."
That account came in a recommendation letter sent to the University of Illinois' neuroscience program as part of James Holmes' application to the school last year. The names of those who wrote the letter were blacked out.
The letter and all of the university's documents related to Holmes were provided to The Associated Press on Friday after an open records request. The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill., first obtained the documents.
Holmes declined to attend the highly selective program, and instead attended the University of Colorado, Denver, studying neuroscience until he dropped out in June. He gave no reason for declining the Illinois offer, and no reason for dropping out in Colorado.
University of Colorado officials have declined to release Holmes' records, citing a Colorado judge's gag order that does not apply to other states.
Democrats hope to undermine Romney with a two-pronged tax attack on his policy and payments
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democrats are growing increasingly confident that a two-pronged tax attack on Republican Mitt Romney -- one part policy, one part personal -- will help President Barack Obama lure pivotal support from middle class voters.
Led by Obama, the Democrats are going after Romney for seeking to protect tax cuts for the wealthy and for refusing to release more information on the taxes he pays on his personal fortune.
Democrats say both public and private polls suggest the double-barreled focus on taxes is giving Obama an edge in the race. The strategy also gives the president an avenue to campaign on the economy -- the top issue for voters -- while steering clear of talking about the nation's high unemployment.
A sign the strategy might be working: Romney said both campaigns would benefit if they agreed that "attacks based upon business or family or taxes or things of that nature -- that this is just -- this is diversion." Instead, he said in an interview with NBC News, he would prefer to have a setting in which he and Obama would only talk about issues and differences in their positions.
Three months before the election, national polls show Obama with a slight lead. And Romney will spend the coming weeks -- starting Saturday with a bus tour -- trying to change the trajectory of the race. In recent days, he's gone on the offensive by criticizing Obama on welfare, making his own play for middle class voters, after months of taking heat from Democrats.
EYES ON LONDON: Olympic-sized parties, medal count race, Jeter's speed, love in air
LONDON (AP) -- Around the 2012 Olympics and its host city with journalists from The Associated Press bringing the flavor and details of the games to you:
OLYMPIC STYLE PARTYING
The competitions will end Sunday, but then expect fetes that organizers say will be of Olympic proportions.
Consider music director David Arnold's prediction: it will be "the greatest after-party in the world."
US officials say al-Qaida is gaining a stronger foothold in Syria as the civil war drags on
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Al-Qaida has advanced beyond isolated pockets of activity in Syria and now is building a network of well-organized cells, according to U.S. intelligence officials, who fear the terrorists could be on the verge of establishing an Iraq-like foothold that would be hard to defeat if rebels eventually oust President Bashar Assad.
At least a couple of hundred al-Qaida-linked militants are already operating in Syria, and their ranks are growing as foreign fighters stream into the Arab country daily, current and former U.S. intelligence officials say. The units are spreading from city to city, with veterans of the Iraq insurgency employing their expertise in bomb-building to carry out more than two dozen attacks so far. Others are using their experience in coordinating small units of fighters in Afghanistan to win new followers.
In Syria on Friday, rebel commanders appealed anew for new and better weapons from abroad, complaining that Assad's forces have them badly outgunned from the air and on the ground. In fact, rebel leaders say that with so little aid coming to them from the U.S. and other nations, they are slowly losing the battle for influence against hardline militants. They say their fighters are sometimes siding with extremists who are better funded and armed so they can fight the far stronger Syrian army.
It all could point to a widening danger posed by extremists who have joined rebels fighting the Assad government. Although the extremists are ostensibly on the same side as Washington by opposing Assad, U.S. officials fear their presence could fundamentally reshape what began as a protest movement for reform composed of largely moderate or secular Syrians. The opposition expanded into a civil war pitting Assad's four-decade dictatorship against a movement promising a new, democratic future for the country.
The intelligence also offers some explanation for the Obama administration's reluctance to offer military aid to the anti-Assad insurgency, which Washington says it is still trying to better understand. U.S. officials have repeatedly rejected providing any lethal assistance to the conflict that has killed at least 19,000 people over the past 17 months. With the U.S. weighing its options, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will discuss the situation with top Turkish officials and Syrian opposition activists in Istanbul on Saturday.
As drought deepens, US farmers now expect poorest corn crop in more than a decade
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A deepening drought in the nation's farm states has cut further into this fall's harvest, with farmers now expected to pull from their fields the lowest corn yield in more than a decade.
But American farmers are still expected to produce their eighth-largest harvest ever, and while there's sure to be a rise in prices at the grocery stores, there's little risk of a failed harvest that would lead to shortages on the shelves.
The U.S. Agriculture Department predicted the nation's biggest harvest ever in the spring, when farmers planted 96.4 million acres of corn -- the most since 1937. But it cut its estimate a month ago and again Friday, saying it now expects the nation to produce 10.8 billion bushels, the least since 2006.
If that estimate holds, the federal government says it will be enough to meet the world's needs and ensure there are no shortages. But experts say food prices will almost certainly climb as corn is a widely used ingredient found in everything from cosmetics to cereal, colas and candy bars.
The drought stretching across the U.S. from Ohio west to California is deepest in the middle of the country, and major farm states like Iowa and Illinois are seeing conditions get worse each week. Farmers credit advances in seed technology that have produced hardier, more drought-tolerant corn for any harvest at all.
Pomp, circumstance and the Spice Girls: Olympics to bow out with tribute to British pop
LONDON (AP) -- The London Games are set to end in a blazing tribute to British pop and pizazz, with a closing ceremony that will see stars from the Spice Girls to The Who turn Olympic Stadium into a giant jukebox of musical hits.
Two weeks of sporting drama wrap up Sunday with what music director David Arnold has called "the greatest after-party in the world."
"If the opening ceremony was the wedding, then we're the wedding reception," Arnold told the Daily Telegraph -- with everyone from the Pet Shop Boys to Annie Lennox and Fatboy Slim on hand to get people dancing.
Although organizers have tried to the ceremony under wraps, many details have leaked out in the British media -- and some of the performers have let the cat out of the bag themselves.
The Who, George Michael, Muse and Ed Sheeran have all said they will take part in a show that will include performances of 30 British hit singles from the past five decades.
Apologizing, Fareed Zakaria is suspended from Time and CNN for copying another writer's work
NEW YORK (AP) -- Time editor-at-large and CNN host Fareed Zakaria has been suspended by both the magazine and the network for lifting several paragraphs by another writer for his use in a recent Time column.
Zakaria apologized Friday, declaring in a statement he made "a terrible mistake," adding, "It is a serious lapse and one that is entirely my fault."
In a separate statement, Time spokesman Ali Zelenko said the magazine accepts Zakaria's apology, but would suspend his column for one month, "pending further review."
"What he did violates our own standards for our columnists, which is that their work must not only be factual but original; their views must not only be their own but their words as well," Zelenko said.
Shortly afterward, CNN said it had removed from the network's website a blog post that "included similar unattributed excerpts," and taken Zakaria off the air indefinitely.
At last, a deal: Dwight Howard traded to Lakers, finally ending his time in Orlando
LONDON (AP) -- Dwight Howard held some of the championship trophies in the Los Angeles Lakers' facility Friday, the first act of the next phase of his NBA career.
"Making some wishes," Howard said.
One of his wishes has finally come true. At long last, he's out of Orlando.
It took four teams, 11 other players, five draft picks and countless rounds of talks over many months, but the Orlando Magic decided the time was right to start over without the NBA's best center and end a saga that has dogged the franchise for what seems like an eternity.
Howard is off to play alongside Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles, after a megadeal involving the Lakers, Magic, Philadelphia and Denver was worked out Thursday and completed Friday after the NBA reviewed and approved the particulars.