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Evolution, climate change: Perry not shy on views
by Staff Writers
Chicago (AFP) Aug 18, 2011

Texas governor Rick Perry said Thursday that evolution is a "theory" with "some gaps" -- the latest in a string of comments indicating he will not temper his conservative views for his White House bid.

The day before, Perry -- who jumped into the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination less than a week ago -- slammed scientists who he said had "manipulated data" to show that human activity caused global warming.

While his remarks at campaign stops in New Hampshire may win over his party's base, they may make him a poor candidate to take on Barack Obama, said John Brehm, a political science professor at the University of Chicago.

"The more he makes statements like this, the less palatable he'll seem to a mainstream American and the more palatable he'll seem to Republicans activists," Brehm told AFP.

Polls show Perry is nipping at the heels of frontrunner Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts who is regarded with some suspicion by the party's conservative base for his more moderate views and Mormon faith.

Perry has also surged pass Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann, a darling of the ultra-conservative Tea Party movement, winning 18.4 percent support in a RealClearPolitics average of recent polls compared to Romney's 20.2 percent and Bachmann's 9.6 percent.

Perry has thus far shown himself to be a smooth campaigner who does not back down when criticized.

On Monday, he said at a campaign stop in Iowa that he would view attempts by Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke to boost the US economy before the November 2012 elections as "almost treasonous" and invoked the specter of mob justice.

"If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don't know what y'all would do to him in Iowa -- but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas," Perry told supporters at a backyard get-together.

Those comments drew sharp rebukes from both Republicans and the White House, but Perry did not apologize.

He courted controversy again at a breakfast in Bedford, New Hampshire on Wednesday with his skepticism about climate change.

"I think there are a substantial amount of scientists who have manipulated data so they'll have dollars rolling in for their projects," Perry said.

"We're seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists that are coming forward and questioning the original idea that manmade global warming is what is causing the climate to change."

In Portsmouth, New Hampshire, he responded to a protestor who got her son to ask Perry how old the earth was by bending down and placing his hands on the boy's shoulders in a paternalistic gesture.

"Your mom asked about evolution. It's a theory that's out there. It's got some gaps in it," Perry said Thursday in an exchange captured by news crews.

"In Texas we teach both creationism and evolution because I figure you're smart enough to figure out which one is right."

Rival Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor who is among the most moderate Republican candidates and holds just 2.2 percent support in recent polls, shot back at Perry on Twitter on Thursday.

"To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy," he wrote.

Those words will likely hurt Huntsman among the Republican base.

More than half of Republicans - and four in 10 Americans - believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years, according to the latest Gallup poll.

Just 16 percent believe that God played no part in human development while 38 percent believe humans developed over millions of years with God's help.

Meanwhile, skepticism about global warming is growing among Americans. A recent Gallup poll found that just 50 percent of respondents think global warming is caused by human activities, down from 61 percent in 2003.

"These aren't necessarily views that the larger electorate is primarily motivated by," said Charles Franklin, who studies public opinion and politics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"Ultimately, Governor Perry and Congresswoman Bachmann do not want to fight the general election on evolution and climate change. They want to fight it on jobs and the economy."

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Argentina primaries hint at tough election
Buenos Aires (UPI) Aug 18, 2011 - Argentina is heading for a tough campaign for the Oct. 23 presidential election after President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner emerged victorious in a primary election seen as a test of her continued appeal and the fragmented opposition's collective strength.

The incumbent's clear victory had two immediate outcomes: It gave the Fernandez camp a welcome boost, albeit tinged with relief, and left the opposition plenty of food for thought over its flawed assumptions and miscalculated confidence.

It also exposed the government to risks that things could go badly wrong before the Oct. 23 election if economic problems continue to weigh down the electorate.

Both sides need to work to build their positions and Fernandez specially has to watch her step as her gain can easily turn into loss in the months ahead, analysts said amid intense discussion of the Aug. 14 aftermath.

Argentina faces major challenges to fix its economy, keep labor unions content in the months ahead and achieve a fairer income distribution and poverty reduction.

Workers' protests have dented the president's approval ratings before, especially after major farm stoppages in 2008-09, and numerous follow-on clashes between labor union representatives and the government.

The primaries' outcome showed Fernandez could win back voters lost in previous polls and sustain her primaries lead before the decisive Oct. 23 vote if the opposition fails to put up a strong fight.

Fernandez received more than 50 percent of the vote and was nearly 38 percentage points ahead of the closest candidate, centrist Radical Civic Union party congressman Ricardo Alfonsin. Former President Eduardo Duhalde, representing a conservative faction of the Peronist party, came third.

The opposition still has the potential to close ranks in a final push for power, analysts said.

Disappointed critics are banking on the economy becoming an issue before the election or labor disputes boiling over and pulling Fernandez down.

When Fernandez succeeded her husband, Nestor Kirchner, in 2007, skeptics saw her victory as implicit support for her husband, who steered the country through recovery after the economic crisis in 2001, when Argentina defaulted on its sovereign debt.

In 2008 her popularity rating fell to less than 30 percent after the farmers' revolt. But a boom in commodity prices enabled Fernandez to fund economic reforms and welfare programs.

When Kirchner died in October 2010 Fernandez's image suffered initially because many Argentineans believed her to be dependent on her husband. Soon after, however, Fernandez clawed back approval ratings and even surpassed previous ratings.

Analysts said her strong win in the primaries would prompt many Argentineans to reflect on the result and its impact on the Oct. 23 presidential election and would make voters more exacting in their assessment of her gains.

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Phony war lays 2012 battle lines
Alpha, Illinois (AFP) Aug 17, 2011
In a phony war fought across empty plains and crowded airwaves, US President Barack Obama and the Republicans who want his job have sketched the thematic battle lines of the 2012 election. Many twists will shape the race and no one will remember the last three days when America elects its next president in November 2012. But in an explosive late summer flurry, Obama and leading Republica ... read more

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