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RMU poll finds tight GOP presidential field

Published by Mike Pound on .

Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, talks to a throng of media personnel after addressing an economic summit hosted by Florida Gov. Rick Scott in Orlando, Florida, June 2, 2015. (Steve Nesius/Reuters)Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, talks to a throng of media personnel after addressing an economic summit hosted by Florida Gov. Rick Scott in Orlando, Florida, June 2, 2015. (Steve Nesius/Reuters)

The race for the Republican presidential nomination has plenty of candidates, but, so far, no clear-cut leaders, according to a Robert Morris University poll released today.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush holds a slight lead in a cluster with two other candidates – Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker – each of whom earned support of between 15.4 and 13.8 percent in the national poll. A second cluster of candidates – all hovering between 7.5 and 6.7 percent in the poll – included New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

The poll was conducted by the RMU Polling Institute in early May, well before Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul did what he could to boost his visibility during debates over the renewal of the Patriot Act; the RMU poll has Mr. Paul coming in at a meager 2 percent.

On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held a huge lead over declared or presumed challengers. Ms. Clinton came in at 55.8 percent; her most serious challenger in the poll, Vice President Joe Biden, received just 8 percent. Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (4.8 percent), New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (2.9 percent) and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (0.6 percent) followed.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

 Terri Klein, right, hugs Allegheny County Judge Eleanor L. Bush after being sworn in to fill the County Council District 11 seat left vacant by the death of Barbara Daly Danko Tuesday. (Pam Panchak/Post-Gazette)Terri Klein, right, hugs Allegheny County Judge Eleanor L. Bush after being sworn in to fill the County Council District 11 seat left vacant by the death of Barbara Daly Danko Tuesday. (Pam Panchak/Post-Gazette)

1) Early Returns welcomes Terri Klein to Allegheny County Council. We also welcome the kinder, gentler Rich Fitzgerald, who sounded legitimately warm in his statement about Ms. Klein, who will serve out the term of the late Barbara Daly Danko, who died prior to winning the Democratic nomination in last month's primary.

2) Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will tell us whether or not he's running for president on June 24 in New Orleans. If he chooses to run, it would probably be good to ask him a few questions about the financial shape of his home state ... and, you know, whether he has a basic notion about how budgets work.

3) Kathleen Kane's least favorite news of the day: the corruption investigation of Philadelphia-area legislators that she abandoned has netted two more guilty pleas.

4) When you place a telephone call today, be sure to say hi to the National Security Agency, which can once again tap into your call records, albeit with some new limitations.

5) Sepp Blatter will still be president of FIFA, the highly profitable non-profit that governs international football (the sport known here as soccer), when the Women's World Cup gets started this weekend. But that doesn't mean that Mr. Blatter, who announced on Tuesday plans to resign, is off the hook in the scandal that has so far netted charges against several of his colleagues; there are widespread reports circulating today that he is the subject of the continued investigation by the United States of corruption in the sport.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Gov. Tom Wolf is flanked by Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Linda Lane (right) and Assistant Superintendent Dara Ware Allen (left) during his Schools That Teach roundtable discussion at Roosevelt PreK-5 School in Pittsburgh's Carrick neighborhood Tuesday. (Bob Donaldson/Post-Gazette)Gov. Tom Wolf is flanked by Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Linda Lane (right) and Assistant Superintendent Dara Ware Allen (left) during his Schools That Teach roundtable discussion at Roosevelt PreK-5 School in Pittsburgh's Carrick neighborhood Tuesday. (Bob Donaldson/Post-Gazette)

1) Welcome to June, otherwise known as the 30 days when we'll find out whether Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-led General Assembly will be able to work together, on the 2015-16 budget and other stuff.

2) You've got a couple days – at least – to make telephone calls without worrying about the NSA listening in, after the Senate failed to come up with a way to extend key components of the Patriot Act before a deadline late Sunday night. But even with all of the drama today, keep in mind that a compromise bill – one that could include some components of an alternate passed by the House -- is likely just a few days away.

3) The longer the debate over the Patriot Act goes, the better it is for the presidential campaign of Sen. Rand Paul, who, as we mentioned a few days back, is doing everything he can – maybe even violating Senate rules along the way – to capitalize on his stand against government surveillance of Americans. That includes claiming that there are some in Washington who hope for a terrorist attack so they can blame Mr. Paul, an idiotic notion from which he has since backed away.

4) Old-School: Money makes the political world go 'round. New School: Data – especially the contact information of folks who have been politically active in the past – makes the political world go 'round.

5) The Democratic presidential campaign got a new official candidate over the weekend, prompting a question from fivethirtyeight.com: If the people who put Gov. Martin O'Malley into office aren't especially fond of him now, why would any of the rest of us vote for him?

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Perry on Politics: Flaws abound in 2016 presidential field

Published by James M. Perry on .

Sen. Marco Rubio (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

It seems that another Republican joins the race to win his or her party's presidential nomination almost every day. It was George Pataki, a former governor of New York that some New Yorkers probably don't remember, this week.

Hardly any of them offers the nation much hope. They all, with one possible exception, have serious drawbacks.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, has a problem, too. Hers, quite simply, is greed. This 67-year-old woman, who started life as a middle-class kid in Illinois, and her 68-year-old husband, who came out of Hope, Ark., to become president of the United States, earned between them $25 million for speeches they delivered to just about anyone willing to pay big bucks, from auto dealers to summer camp operators. Bill Clinton said he gave so many speeches because "I gotta pay our bills." Palpable nonsense.

Carly Fiorina, a Republican, whose sole credential is her checkered career as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, is a heckler. Wednesday, as Mrs. Clinton prepared to give a speech at a South Carolina hotel, Ms. Fiorina appeared across the street and held a news conference to criticize Mrs. Clinton. For some right-wing Republicans, her obsession with Mrs. Clinton is good, red meat.

Mrs. Clinton's only serious rival in her own party is Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a spry 73-year-old with a serious liberal, occasionally even socialist, background. He will have his day, but the conventional wisdom seriously warns he's too far left to take seriously. We'll see.

Jeb Bush hasn't officially declared his candidacy (though he slipped and said he was running the other day). Mr. Bush, the former governor of Florida and the son and brother of presidents, just seems confused. He was asked a few days ago if he would have invaded Iraq knowing what his brother knew. Sure, he replied, and then began dithering. It's a terrible dilemma: Should he openly criticize some of the decisions made by his father and his brother, to mark himself as his own man, or should he continue to blindly support both of them? So far, he seems unsure.

Rick Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania (he lost his seat by 700,000 votes in 2006), actually won 11 primaries when he sought the nomination in 2012. Obamacare, he believes, is the "death knell" for the United States. Same-sex marriage is a death knell too. He would appear to be wildly out of touch, which is why he appealed to so many Tea Party conservatives in 2012.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is an opportunist, maybe even a hypocrite. He said the other day President Obama is responsible for the mess in Iraq. Mr. Cruz thinks he should have enforced his self-declared don't-cross red line, but didn't. Well, Dana Milbank notes in the Washington Post, one of the reasons he didn't is that Mr. Cruz campaigned so successfully against bombing Iraq. Pure hypocrisy.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky seems to have declared war on his own party. "Right now," he writes in his campaign book, "Taking a Stand," published Tuesday, "the Republican brand sucks." He says he's planted giant sequoia trees in his back yard in Bowling Green. "I'm a crunchy conservative and a tree hugger and proud of it." Ronald Reagan really didn't say if you've seen one redwood you've seen them all. But he did say, "You know, a tree is a tree, how many more do you need to look at?"

By all accounts, Ben Carson was a terrific surgeon at world-class Johns Hopkins University, the first to separate conjoined twins. He is now retired from surgery, and seeking the GOP presidential nomination. He'll get some votes because he is far-out right wing, and some Republicans love him for it. He called the president a "psychopath" the other day.

Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, is old news. He's done this before. Say this for him, though, he has the best campaign-book title, "God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy."

That leaves the most interesting Republican in the pack, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. He's young (44), energetic, smart, and very conservative. He once said his parents fled Cuba to escape dictator Castro. No, they fled Cuba to escape dictator Batista. Odd that he should be wrong about that. But the Latino connection is real and he and Jeb Bush, married to a woman born in Mexico, could easily appeal to Latino voters, a fast-growing bloc in this country.

Democratic strategists seem to worry most about Mr. Rubio. If he wins the nomination, Mrs. Clinton will need to convince millions of voters he's too conservative to run the country while arguing she's not too liberal for the job.

James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, contributes regular observations to post-gazette.com. Mr. Perry was the chief political correspondent of The Wall Street Journal until his retirement. Prior to that, he covered national politics for the Dow Jones weekly, The National Observer.

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Peduto hits the road again

Published by Robert Zullo on .

Mayor Bill Peduto (Allison Farrand/Post-Gazette)

Mayor Bill Peduto is on the road again less than 48 hours after returning from a three-night trip to Cuba described as an attempt to build business ties for local firms in the hope that the U.S. Congress lifts a more than five-decade old trade embargo with the Communist island nation.

According to the mayor's public schedule, he is in Dayton, Ohio, today for events that include a meeting with Mayor Nan Whaley, a panel on sustainable manufacturing with Dayton business leaders, delivering the keynote address at the Miami Valley Cycling Summit and an economic development tour before returning to Pittsburgh this evening.

The mayor's frequent travel during his first year in office, usually on the dime of private businesses and groups, has long been a source of criticism from his detractors, including Councilwoman Darlene Harris, who took a shot at the city's priorities while checking out renovations that included new office furniture, a conference room and lunch room Wednesday at the Department of Permits, Licenses and Inspections. Mrs. Harris argued that other city facilities, like fire stations and Public Works divisions, are in more dire need.

"You're not going to know what's happening unless you're in the city of Pittsburgh," she said of the mayor.

Mr. Peduto visited Austin, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Louisville, Ky., New York City, Scottsdale, Ariz., Washington, D.C., Toronto, Denmark and Germany last year and is also scheduled to travel to Wuhan, China, this year to deliver "a keynote address on urban transformation" at a conference.

Even some of the mayor's closest allies in city hall have privately expressed a desire to see him hang around town a little more.

Robert Zullo: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 412-263-3909. Twitter: @rczullo.

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