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Friday, September 7, 2012

Kennedy Wins Primary for Barney Frank\'s Congressional Seat


BROOKLINE, Mass. - Days after Joe Kennedy III stood in front of the Democratic National Convention to offer a tribute to his great-uncle, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, he found himself on a smaller platform just outside Boston, shaking hands with commuters at a public transit station here on the first day of his general election campaign in the Fourth Congressional District of Massachusetts.

Mr. Kennedy, 31, handily won his primarily election Thursday, taking 90 percent of the vote in a contest with two relatively unknown rivals, Rachel Brown and Herb Robinson, and once again keeping the Kennedy name prominent in Massachusetts politics.

A former assistant district attorney and Peace Corps volunteer, Mr . Kennedy is hoping to take the seat occupied by Barney Frank, who announced last fall that he would retire after representing the district for more than 30 years.

“Those are very, very, very big shoes to fill,” said Bobbi Fox, 58, a software engineer who, like Mr. Frank, lives in Newton, Mass., and was chatting with Mr. Kennedy on Friday evening. She said that she planned to vote for Mr. Kennedy but that he still needed to prove himself to voters who probably knew more about his family than about him.

Mr. Kennedy's challenger, Sean Bielat, shares the sentiment.

“Based on what I've seen from his résumé, it's pretty thin,” said Mr. Bielat, who defeated Elizabeth Childs, a former state health commissioner, and David Steinhof, a dentist, in the Republican primary.

Mr. Bielat, 37, a businessman and a former Marine, ran an aggressive race against Mr. Frank in 2010.

Akin Defends Cashflow After Ad Dispute


It's not quite “Mad Men Missouri,” but a little drama is playing out in a dispute between a beleaguered Senate candidate and a television ad department in the state.

The candidate is Representative Todd Akin, a Republican who is on the defensive for remarks he made in his campaign against Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat. The television station is KOMU-8, an NBC affiliate in Colombia, Mo., that reported that it had pulled Mr. Akin's ads midway through its intended run because of an unpaid bill.

The report immediately prompted questions about whether Mr. Akin had the cash to go forward with his bid.

His campaign has been operating without help from national Republican groups after he s aid on Aug. 19 that women's bodies could often prevent pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape,” and G.O.P. leaders, including Mitt Romney, have urged him to step aside.

But speculation that the campaign is beset by both unpaid bills and empty war chests are “factually false,” said Rick Tyler, a senior adviser to Mr. Akin's campaign.

“In the last 18 days, we have raised over $400,000 online alone,” Mr. Tyler said. While he would not say how much of that is in the bank, he insisted the campaign was not in debt.

As for the ads, according to Mr. Tyler, the Akin campaign booked â€" and paid for â€" half a week of ads, thinking they would probably re-up for the rest of the week. And they did, he said â€" “but a day later.”

Tom Dugan, the general sales manager at KOMU, said the campaign booked a full week of ads, but only paid for half.

Both sides agree that after KOMU's news division ran an article saying the ads had been pulled because of lack of payment, the Akin campaign canceled its remaining buy.

Jobs Numbers Prompt Obama to Account for Anemic Recovery


IOWA CITY - His convention speech was only hours old when President Obama, confronted by a weak new jobs report, found himself Friday having to use precious time on the campaign trail to account for the country's continued anemic economic recovery.

As he has been forced to month after month, the president responded by shifting the blame to Congressional Republicans, calling on lawmakers to pass the jobs bill he proposed last year and that has been languishing since.

“Today we learned that after losing around 800,000 jobs a month when I took office, businesses added private-sector jobs for the 30th month in a row,” Mr. Obama told a c ampaign rally in Portsmouth, N.H. He did not mention that the actual number of new jobs reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics earlier in the morning, a figure that was lower than expected.

“But that's not good enough,” Mr. Obama said. “We know it's not good enough.”

The president called on Congress to commit to extending middle-class tax cuts. “If Republicans are serious about getting rid of joblessness, they can create one million new jobs if Congress passes the jobs plan I sent them,” he said.

Mr. Obama is on a post-convention campaign trip through crucial swing states, starting in New Hampshire on Friday morning before heading to Iowa City and then ending in St. Petersburg, Fla. There he will begin a bus tour over the weekend through Florida, a perennial battleground.

He was joined by his full ticket: The first lady, Michelle Obama (who the president called “amazing” at the convention), Vice Presi dent Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his wife, Jill Biden.

Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, wasted no time in jumping on the jobs report Friday. On his way to a campaign stop near Sioux City, Iowa, Mr. Romney told reporters that the latest employment report was a fresh reminder that Mr. Obama's leadership has left Americans with little more than broken promises and empty hope.

“There's almost nothing the president has done in the past three and a half, four years that gives the American people confidence that he knows what he's doing when it comes to jobs and the economy,” Mr. Romney said, adding that the president's speech Thursday to the Democratic National Convention contained even more promises that will go unfulfilled.

The president, meanwhile, got in some licks of his own. During his speech, Mr. Obama tried out a new attack line against the Republican push for tax cuts, deriding the Republicans as running to tax cuts as the solution for e very problem.

On Friday morning, as is his wont when he finds a line he likes, Mr. Obama was ready to expand. Mr. Romney and his running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan, Mr. Obama said, view tax cuts as a miracle cure. “Tax cuts to help you lose a few pounds! Tax cuts to help improve your love life!” Then he grinned.

Deciding What to Leave to Heirs


Paul Sullivan writes this week in his Wealth Matters column about the $5.12 million gift tax exemption that is due to expire at the end of the year.

For the wealthy, that puts a deadline on making a decision about what and how much to give to heirs. But the questions the wealthy are wrestling with also apply to the rest of us, whose property is worth far less - is it better to give heirs a gift of cash or property? And while some people may believe that leaving a home to their children is a way of keeping the family together, the experts Paul spoke to said such gifts can often lead to unexpected complications.

Have you written your will yet? How have you dealt with gifts to your heirs? Have you fig ured out a way to divide your property so that all your heirs feel they were fairly treated?

On Whether to Use Allowance-Tracking Web Sites


In this weekend's Your Money column, I write about Tykoon, the newest of a group of Web sites and apps that help parents dole out allowances, track chores and encourage saving.

It's hard to argue with the goal of teaching good money management. The question is whether technology is the best way to do it. Right now, we're using the three plastic jars approach in my house. But I can see a possible point in the future where the allowance amounts will get higher and it will simply be easier to keep track of it online. But that means my daughter would be spending even more time in front of a screen, which isn't a great result either. And it's no longer quite as visceral.

Who among you is using sites like T ykoon, ThreeJars and My Job Chart to help your children manage tasks and run their money? And have any of you steadfastly steered clear of digital allowance tracking even as your children have aged?

After a Disappointing Jobs Report, Romney Attacks Obama


SIOUX CITY, Iowa â€" Seizing on a disappointing jobs report, Mitt Romney questioned on Friday whether President Obama “knows what he's doing” when it came to fixing the economy.

“There's almost nothing the president has done in the past three and a half, four years that gives the American people confidence that he knows what he's doing when it comes to jobs and the economy,” Mr. Romney told reporters as he stopped here for a campaign rally.

In Mr. Romney's first remarks since the Democratic National Convention wrapped up on Thursday night, the Republican nominee said Mr. Obama had offered little more than empty promises. The employment report released on Friday morning showed that the ec onomy added 96,000 jobs in August, down from a revised figure of 141,000 in July and well below the 125,000 level economists had been expecting.

“What is he going to do to get this economy going?” Mr. Romney said. “And all he said last night was the same as what he said four years ago - which, by the way, he made a lot of promises four years ago. Can you think of any of those promises that was met? I mean, he was going to create jobs. We haven't. Lower unemployment? He hasn't. Rising take-home pay? It's gone down.”

His appearance in Iowa came as the Romney campaign was ramping up activity on another front. It announced on Friday a major advertising campaign in eight swing states. The commercials â€" 15 in all â€" are specifically tailored to resonate with voters in each of those states.

In Florida, for example, people will see commercials about falling real estate values and high foreclosure rates. In Colorado, where the military and defense contrac tors are large employers, people will hear how the president's budget cuts could cost 20,000 military jobs there.

And here in Iowa, they will hear how “excessive government regulations are crushing small businesses and family farms.”

Eastwood Says He Balked at Sharing Speech With Romney Campaign


Clint Eastwood said the idea for the most controversial convention speech in a generation came to him the green room, just after he greeted Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, the country's most influential Roman Catholic bishop.

“There was a stool there, and some fella kept asking me if I wanted to sit down,” Mr. Eastwood said. “When I saw the stool sitting there, it gave me the idea. I'll just put the stool out there, and I'll talk to Mr. Obama and ask him why he didn't keep all of the promises he made to everybody.”

Mr. Eastwood broke his silence about what he acknowledged was a “very unorthodox” endorsement of Mitt Romney during the Republican National Convention in an interview with th e Carmel Pine Cone, his hometown newspaper in California, published on Friday.

During Mr. Eastwood's speech on Aug. 30, carried in prime time on the night that Mr. Romney accepted his party's nomination for president, Mr. Eastwood engaged in a rambling and sarcastic conversation with a chair, telling the audience that an invisible President Obama was sitting in it. His talk drew tough reviews from political and media analysts on both sides of the aisle, who found its freewheeling style out of sync with the sober tradition of political conventions.

Mr. Eastwood said that the Romney campaign had asked for details about what he would say, but that he balked at the notion of divulging too much or rehearsing his speech.

“They vet most of the people, but I told them, ‘You can't do that with me, because I don't know what I'm going to say,'” Mr. Eastwood told The Pine Cone.

He explained to the newspaper why he spoke for about twice his allotted time. Th e Romney campaign had limited his remarks to about five minutes, he said, but “when people are applauding so much, it takes you 10 minutes to say five minutes' worth.”

He said he was aware that his approach was unusual, but argued it was in keeping with the way he gave speeches as mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea.

“They've got this crazy actor who's 82 years old up there in a suit,” he said. “I was a mayor, and they're probably thinking I know how to give a speech, but even when I was mayor I never gave speeches. I gave talks.”

Friday Reading: How to Add Missing Titles to iTunes Tracks


A variety of consumer-focused articles appears daily in The New York Times and on our blogs. Each weekday morning, we gather them together here so you can quickly scan the news that could hit you in your wallet.

Romney Campaign Announces Major Ad Campaign


The Romney campaign announced on Friday the beginning of a major advertising campaign in eight battleground states - Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia. The effort will include 15 new commercials, each tailored specifically to the state it will run in and focused on a particular issue like the deficit, defense, manufacturing and energy.

In Florida, people will see commercials about falling real estate values and high foreclosure rates. In Colorado, where the military and defense contractors are large employers, people will hear how the president's budget cuts could cost 20,000 military jobs there. In Iowa, they will hear how “excessive government regula tions are crushing small businesses and family farms.”