By Gary Robertson RICHMOND (Reuters) - Democrat Terry McAuliffe is set to be sworn in as Virginia's governor on Saturday, marking the party's sweep of the top offices in a key swing state that could carry a lesson for Republicans. McAuliffe, 56, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and a major party fundraiser, will take the oath at the state capitol, which was designed by Thomas Jefferson. The soon-to-be governor, who has never before held public office, narrowly defeated Republican Ken Cuccinelli, the outgoing attorney general and a favorite of the party's conservative Tea Party wing. Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said Republicans could learn from McAuliffe's victory if they want to win competitive swing states like Virginia and take back the White House.
By Roberta Rampton WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said he will talk next week about how he plans to create jobs in the U.S. manufacturing sector, one of several economic goals he set for his administration last year that is now receiving renewed attention from the White House. Obama's weekly address hinted that his Wednesday trip to Raleigh, North Carolina, will focus on manufacturing. So next week, I'll join companies and colleges and take action to boost the high-tech manufacturing that attracts the kind of good new jobs a growing middle class requires," Obama said in his address. Obama has long said that jobs are his top priority.
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The September lane closings near the George Washington Bridge that caused huge traffic jams and now appear to have been politically orchestrated by a member of Gov. Chris Christie's administration and key allies violated federal law, a chief official said in an email ordering the lanes reopened.
The White House has weighed in on a petition calling for the government to crack down on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," a television talk show that sparked a furor in China in October with a joke about killing Chinese people to avoid paying down U.S. debt to the country. More than 105,000 people signed on to a White House petition calling for an apology after the show, broadcast on ABC, included a segment where Kimmel asked a group of children how the United States should pay back the $1.3 trillion it owes to China, the world's second-largest economy. A 6-year-old said, "Kill everyone in China." Kimmel replied: "That's an interesting idea." Afterwards, Chinese-American groups protested outside the California headquarters of ABC, which is owned by Walt Disney Co, and the Chinese Foreign Ministry complained. The White House, which accepts petitions and responds to the most popular ones, noted that ABC and Kimmel have "already apologized independently" and said that the comments "do not reflect mainstream views of China in the United States." "As the president has stated publicly, the United States welcomes the continuing peaceful rise of China," the White House said in its official response to the petition.
By Jim Christie SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A Republican California lawmaker proposed on Friday to put a measure before voters to stop bond sales for the state's planned high-speed rail system, in the latest bid by critics to derail the ambitious project. The rail system, a priority of Governor Jerry Brown, would send passengers hurtling through the state's fertile San Joaquin Valley as they travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles. While it is uncertain if the proposed measure by Assemblyman Jeff Gorell will eventually qualify for a statewide ballot, it seizes on potential voter discontent over the project. "California cannot afford to pay for a high-speed train system that will cost more than $100 billion at a time when prisoners are being released from prisons and taxpayers are being asked to dig deeper into their own pockets to pay for basic services," the measure says.
The House of Representatives next week will pass a stop-gap funding measure to prevent a government shutdown for three days as negotiators try to finalize a $1 trillion spending bill, Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor said on Friday. This will allow more time for the spending bill to clear often lengthy procedural hurdles in the U.S. Senate. Lawmakers have been trying to reach agreement on the massive funding bill by January 15, when all government spending authority expires for military and domestic discretionary programs and federal agencies. But negotiators on the measure, which sets thousands of budget line items from national parks to Pentagon weapons programs, still have a number of funding and policy issues to resolve that will likely take through this weekend.