Wednesday, January 25, 2012

APNewsBreak: Bachmann says she'll seek 4th term

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann announced Wednesday she will seek a fourth term in the U.S. House following her failed presidential bid.
Bachmann declared her plans in an interview with The Associated Press. The Republican congresswoman had been mum on her plans since folding her presidential campaign after a poor showing in the Iowa caucuses earlier this month.
"I'm looking forward to coming back and bringing a strong, powerful voice to Washington, D.C.," Bachmann said.
Bachmann will be a formidable candidate in Minnesota's 6th District, where other Republican hopefuls had stood aside until she made a decision on running for re-election. Some experts had speculated that Bachmann might instead turn to a career in talk media.
Bachmann is a potent fundraiser who raised $13.5 million in her last House race, but would likely start from scratch after the presidential campaign. A campaign finance report that would show how much money she can bring to the race isn't due until the end of the month.
Bachmann also faces uncertainty over how her district will be reshaped. One redistricting plan put forth by Democrats would throw her into a race with Rep. Betty McCollum, a six-term Democrat who represents the St. Paul area. A special redistricting panel is due to issue maps late next month.
Bachmann was an early media favorite in the chase for the GOP presidential nomination after winning the Iowa straw poll in midsummer, but she eventually faded.
Her announcement came in an interview to react to President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech. Just as she did on the campaign trail, Bachmann criticized Obama for "doubling down on failures that didn't work."
"We have to radically scale back on government spending, we have to radically cut back on debt accumulation," Bachmann said.

Lopez bows out of Venezuela presidential race

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez bowed out of Venezuela's presidential race on Tuesday, saying he will support his leading rival as the opposition seeks to field a single candidate to challenge President Hugo Chavez.
The announcement gives a significant boost to Henrique Capriles, the youthful 39-year-old state governor who has a commanding lead in the polls ahead of the Feb. 12 opposition primary. It also shakes up the field of five remaining contenders in the primary, which will choose a unity candidate to face Chavez in the Oct. 7 election.
"You will be the next president," Lopez said at a news conference with Capriles. The two embraced and raised their arms before a cheering crowd.
"In me, he will have a great ally," said Lopez, who is on a list of hundreds of politicians barred from holding office in the past decade due to corruption investigations. He calls the probe politically motivated.
Recent polls show Chavez's popularity slightly above 50 percent, down from the 63 percent support he received in 2006 elections, emboldening Venezuela's opposition, which in the past has been splintered and disorganized in its challenges to the socialist president.
Pollster Luis Vicente Leon said the opposition is seeing its "best moment" politically. Capriles' support has been above 40 percent among likely opposition voters in recent polls, and will likely pick up a significant share of Lopez's support, Leon said.
Lopez, a former mayor of Caracas' Chacao district, had been trailing among opposition contenders in recent polls, with one recent survey giving him 16 percent support. Lopez said that with his departure, "unity is strengthened" within the opposition.
The athletic Capriles has captured support among Venezuelans by presenting himself as a capable manager and pledging to solve problems such as rampant crime, unemployment and 27-percent inflation.
Capriles has tended to avoid direct verbal confrontations with Chavez and has described his politics as center-left. He likens his approach to that of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who promoted pro-business policies while funding social programs that made him popular among the poor.
Capriles is currently the governor of Miranda state, which is the country's second-most populous state and includes parts of Caracas as well as largely impoverished towns in the surrounding hills. He served as mayor of Caracas' Baruta district before he was elected governor in 2008, defeating a close ally of Chavez. He is also a former congressman.
"We need all your good ideas here," Capriles told Lopez during the news conference. "We both have the same dream."
"You have to look for a wife for me," Capriles, who is a bachelor, joked to the married Lopez.
Capriles said that from now on Lopez will coordinate his campaign, but he denied that their alliance had anything to do with doling out potential future positions.
According to recent polls, Capriles' top rival in the race is Pablo Perez, the governor of western Zulia state, who has been trailing in the surveys.
Perez shrugged off the alliance between his rivals, but also said he thinks voters dislike such political deals. "Votes can't be endorsed. In politics, two plus two isn't four," Perez told reporters, expressing confidence.
A December survey by the Caracas-based pollster Datanalisis found that 33.6 percent supported Perez, while 44.9 percent favored Capriles.
Capriles said he aims for a "break with the old way of conducting politics," and that remark seemed to irritate some within the group of parties that back Perez.
"One thing is breaking with the bad of the past, and it's something else to generalize," said Omar Barboza, a leader of Perez's party. "I think it's immaturity," Barboza said, apparently referring to Capriles' remark.
Others running in the Feb. 12 primary include congresswoman Maria Corina Machado, Diego Arria, a former Venezuelan ambassador to the United Nations, and Pablo Medina, a leftist former union leader.
Chavez has been in office for 13 years and is seeking another six-year term in the October election. He has sought to portray his opponents as allies of the wealthy and the U.S. government.
"The candidate of the counterrevolution, whoever it is... is going to be the candidate of the Yankees," Chavez said in a speech Tuesday night, without referring to any of his potential challengers by name. "He's going to be the candidate of the bourgeoisie."
Lopez had gone ahead with his presidential bid despite a Supreme Court ruling in October that had upheld a ban on him holding office.
In its decision, the Supreme Court upheld a decision by the country's top anti-corruption official disqualifying Lopez from holding office until 2014, yet also said he could be a candidate. The Supreme Court dismissed as "unfeasible" a decision by the Costa Rica-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights that had sided with Lopez and said his political rights had been violated.
"Lopez was running far behind in the polls, and the Supreme Court's defiance of the decision by the Inter-American Court left a big cloud of uncertainty over Lopez's future, even if he were to come out ahead," said Cynthia Arnson, director of the Latin America program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. "Capriles has been the front-runner for some time, so the endorsement will continue to bolster his campaign."
Capriles called his relationship with Lopez "an alliance with a view fixed on Oct. 7."
Associated Press writers Ian James and Christopher Toothaker in Caracas contributed to this report.

New Yahoo CEO says company needs to "do better"

(Reuters) - Yahoo Inc Chief Executive Scott Thompson said reviving the company's flagging display advertising business was his "highest priority," even as he crafts a broader plan to bring the struggling Internet company back to fighting form.
"There's no question that we need to do better," said Thompson on his first quarterly earnings since taking the reins earlier this month, as Yahoo reported another decline in sales and profit on Tuesday.
Analysts prodded Thompson for clues about his plans for Yahoo Inc, which fired former CEO Carol Bartz in September and last week saw co-founder Jerry Yang resign unexpectedly, but all they received were boilerplate comments about how the company needs to "do better" and "get innovative products that matter into the market."
The lack of details didn't damage Wall Street's assessment of Thompson's debut, with many analysts appearing willing to give the former PayPal President some breathing room to settle in and figure out a strategy.
"He seemed to be speaking with a greater sense of urgency to act than his predecessors have," said Stifel Nicolaus analyst Jordan Rohan.
Thompson, along with Chief Financial Officer Tim Morse, gave few hints about the progress of Yahoo's strategic review as well, dashing hopes that his arrival might hasten a transaction.
Morse said talks with Yahoo's Asian partners -- Alibaba and Softbank -- about a restructuring were continuing but beyond that provided little concrete detail on where things stand.
Thompson, who was only hired as CEO two weeks ago, added that the company's board has narrowed down its options to the ones that appear "most promising."
Shares of the company slipped 9 cents to $15.60 in after-hours trade.
A Boston native with a thick accent, Thompson said he would infuse the roughly 14,000-employee organization with speed.
"When it comes to making decisions, I make them quickly and then push to move fast, fast, fast," he said.
"We will get speed back into the equation and move aggressively. To me that's how we get to playing offense rather than defense."
He stressed that Yahoo would invest the majority of its resources into its core businesses, while remaining open to potential acquisitions and looking for "revenue streams that look different from what we're doing today."
He also addressed the age-old identity question that has frustrated many of the company's previous CEOs, noting that Yahoo is "fundamentally" both a media company and a technology company. "We better be darn good at both," he said.
One of the most pressing concerns is Yahoo's display advertising business, which is facing increasing competition from Google and Facebook, and which declined in the fourth quarter.
"Their core display (business) is becoming an issue. It takes the company from being a growth company to being a melting ice cube. So it's a big deal," said Brett Harris, an analyst at Gabelli & Company.
Yahoo's Morse said that macroeconomic factors, particularly in Europe, resulted in weaker than expected display advertising revenue in the fourth quarter and continued to be a concern.
"We still look out, especially upon Europe, with some caution," Morse told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.
But he said Yahoo was seeing some positive trends in the new year, noting that some large advertisers that had limited their ad spending with Yahoo in 2011, had already committed to "meaningful upfronts" in 2012.
The struggling Internet company projected that its net revenue in the first quarter would range between $1.025 billion and $1.105 billion.
The company earned $296 million in net income in the three months ended December 31, or 24 cents a share, compared with $312 million, or 24 cents a share, in the year-ago period.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S were expecting 24 cents per share in profit.
In the fourth quarter, Yahoo reported net revenue, which excludes fees that Yahoo shares with Web partners, of roughly $1.17 billion, compared with $1.205 billion the same time last year.
Display ad revenue, Yahoo's main source of revenue, totaled $612 million for the quarter. Search ad revenue for the quarter came in at $465 million, $48 million of which stemmed from its partnership with Microsoft.
Thompson said he had spent his first few weeks at Yahoo meeting with the company's employees, managers and customers.
While Thompson said he wouldn't lay out a detailed strategy until he has fully assessed Yahoo's direction, he pointed to data as a key building block for the company's future.
Yahoo will leverage its deep stockpile of data about the company's roughly 700 million users to provide better products for Websurfers and better services for advertisers, Thompson said.
"If you believe data and great technology and great technologists can begin to predict what is in a user's mind and what they want to do next, having that base of data to start from is a big, big advantage," said Thompson.
(Reporting By Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Bernard Orr)