Politics & Government

Subpoenas to be issued in probe of trooper's firing

Alaska legislators are preparing to issue subpoenas as part of an investigation into Gov. Sarah Palin's handling of the “Troopergate” affair, but Palin herself won't get one.

State Sen. Hollis French, a Democrat who is managing the probe into Palin's firing of her former public safety commissioner, said legislators decided not to subpoena Palin as a gesture to calm what has become a tense standoff between the Legislature and the Republican vice presidential nominee.

However, legislators still want their investigator to interview Palin.

Legislators also have decided to move up the date for completing their investigation into whether Palin abused her powers as governor in leaning on former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan to fire a state trooper involved in a messy divorce with Palin's sister.

The Legislature's independent investigator, retired state prosecutor Steve Branchflower, will complete his investigative report on Oct. 10 rather than at the end of October, which would be right on top of the Nov. 4 election.

Although Palin earlier this summer said she and members of her administration would gladly cooperate with the investigation, begun in July, she has recently retained a lawyer and questioned the legitimacy of the probe. McClatchy Newspapers

Survey: Palin not changing people's votes

Just four in 10 say Republican Sarah Palin has enough experience to be president, while nearly two-thirds say so about Joe Biden, her Democratic counterpart, a poll showed Friday.

Views of Palin largely reflect partisan loyalty and show she's having little initial impact on which presidential ticket people support, the ABC News survey showed.

Eight in 10 Republicans and more than four in 10 independents say they have more confidence in GOP presidential nominee John McCain's decision-making for his selection of Palin. Six in 10 Democrats say it reduces theirs.

More have a favorable than unfavorable view of Palin by 50 percent to 37 percent – a bit less than the 54 percent to 30 percent positive opinion they have of Biden. Palin is seen favorably by 85 percent of Republicans, 24 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of independents.

By just 6 percentage points, people say her choice makes them likelier to vote for than against the McCain ticket. Pivotal GOP voting blocs – conservatives, Republicans and white evangelicals – are all likelier to support than oppose McCain because of Palin by 32 points or more.

Biden makes people likelier to support Democrat Barack Obama by 12 points. Most say neither vice presidential pick will make a difference. Associated Press

Obama health plan focuses on cancer, insurance

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama plans to boost the fight against cancer by doubling spending on research and guaranteeing that people have access to health insurance regardless of pre-existing conditions, campaign officials said Friday.

Jill Biden, wife of Obama's running mate, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, told reporters that funding for cancer research has stagnated under the Bush administration and that an Obama administration would take the fight to the disease. Overall, funding for the National Cancer Institute went from $4.6 billion in 2003 to $4.8 billion in 2007.

Officials said that Obama planned to gradually raise that spending to $10 billion within five years.

Obama's health insurance proposal, which costs an estimated $55 billion to $60 billion, would set up a National Health Insurance Exchange. It would work like a shopping center for health plans: Private companies would sell coverage through the exchange, and a public, Medicare-like option also would be available. The plans participating in the exchange would have to offer coverage without charging higher premiums based on pre-existing conditions. The government would subsidize the cost of that coverage.

Obama's overall health plan would be financed by letting tax cuts expire for those households with incomes above $250,000. Associated Press

On TV ratings, McCain and Obama are even

John McCain attracted roughly the same number of viewers to his convention acceptance speech Thursday as Barack Obama did before the Democrats last week, according to Nielsen Media Research.

It marked the end of an astonishing run where more than 40 million people watched political speeches on three nights by Obama, McCain and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The GOP convention was the most-watched convention on television ever, beating a standard set by the Democrats a week earlier.

TV ratings throughout the primary season had already indicated an intense interest in the election, but viewers clearly were more fascinated in the Democratic contest between Obama and Hillary Clinton.

An average of 34.5 million viewers watching the GOP convention over three days. The Democrats had an average audience of 30.2 million over four days, according to Nielsen. Associated Press

Debate schedule

All debates will be 90 minutes long and are scheduled to start at 9 p.m.

Sept. 26:
Presidential debate in Oxford, Miss.

Oct. 2: Vice presidential debate in St. Louis, Mo.

Oct. 7: Town hall-style presidential debate in Nashville, Tenn.

Oct. 15: Presidential debate in Hempstead, N.Y.