WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama collected $86 million combined for his re-election campaign and the Democratic party during the past three months, giving him a large fundraising advantage over the Republican field seeking to challenge him in 2012.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in a video posted early Wednesday that it raised more than $47 million and the Democratic National Committee brought in more than $38 million through the end of June, building a foundation for advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts in next year’s election. Obama’s team had set a public goal of $60 million combined.
As expected, the fundraising totals outpace Republicans, who have collectively raised about $35 million so far, although some candidates have yet to release their results. At the same time in 2007, 10 GOP presidential hopefuls had raised more than $118 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads the GOP field in fundraising, pulling in more than $18 million during the past three months. An independent fundraising group supporting Romney’s presidential bid has raised $12 million this year.
Following Romney, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty collected $4.2 million and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman brought in $4.1 million, with about half coming from his personal wealth. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, a tea party favorite, has not yet released her fundraising totals.
Tighter U.S. nuclear safety rules proposed
WASHINGTON — Calling existing nuclear safety rules a “patchwork,” a Nuclear Regulatory Commission task force is recommending tightened regulations and sweeping safety upgrades for the nation’s 104 nuclear reactors.
If enacted, the proposed measures would constitute the biggest safety reforms for the industry since the NRC upgraded its rules after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The recommendations are the result of a 90-day assessment of the disaster at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant in Japan. An earthquake and a tsunami there devastated cooling systems, leading to explosions, three reactor-core meltdowns and ongoing releases of radiation.
While the NRC task force concluded that a similar sequence of events “is unlikely to occur in the United States,” it still advised new rules aimed at preventing radiation releases after natural disasters.
The report highlights several of the proposed rules: a requirement that nuclear power companies evaluate earthquake and flood hazards every 10 years and follow up with mitigation of any risks uncovered, more extensive disaster training for severe accidents, and enhanced plans and equipment to deal with a 72-hour loss of reactor cooling power.
Poll: 59 percent disapprove of Wis. governor’s performance
MILWAUKEE — A new poll has found that majority of Wisconsin residents disapprove of Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s performance and are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the state.
The University of Wisconsin Survey Center’s Badger Poll released Wednesday found that 59 percent of residents disapprove of Walker’s performance. The former Milwaukee County Executive says he i s not concerned by the poll results.
Walker wasted no time after becoming governor in January in pushing divisive legislation through the Republican-controlled Legislature. A measure that stripped most public employees of their collective bargaining rights led to a month of large pro-union protests in and around the state Capitol.
Six Republican and three Democratic state senators are facing recall elections in the next several weeks as a result of the dispute.
Egypt fires nearly 700 top police officers
CAIRO — Egypt’s government sacked nearly 700 top police officers Wednesday, state television reported, the start of a promised cleansing of a force blamed for chronic abuses during the rule of Hosni Mubarak.
The move meets a key demand of protesters encamped in Cairo’s Tahrir Square who are frustrated by the slow pace of change since an 18-day uprising forced the long-entrenched president from office in February.
In another overture to protesters, Egypt’s state news agency reported that parliamentary elections, which had been slated for September, would be postponed by a month or two. That decision is likely to be welcomed by the burgeoning political parties that emerged from the uprising who worried that an early vote would make it difficult for them to compete with established groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.