Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “US politics live: Nevada GOP caucus, unemployment surprise” was written by Richard Adams, for guardian.co.uk on Friday 3rd February 2012 19.10 UTC

1.26pm: Now Lance Armstrong, the well-known cyclist and cancer survivor, wades into the Komen v Planned Parenthood fracas, with a $100,000 donation to Planned Parenthood and this statement:

For 15 years, the Lance Armstrong Foundation has served people and families affected by cancer, especially those in underserved communities. We join Mayor Bloomberg and our partners in the philanthropic community today in their efforts to preserve access to cancer screening for women throughout the US. The Lance Armstrong Foundation will add an additional $100,000 to Mayor Bloomberg’s matching challenge for Planned Parenthood’s cancer services fund.

As Dr King said, “there is no greater injustice than inequality in health care.” Cancer, on the other hand, respects no boundaries. It’s a big, vicious disease that has no regard for race, gender, income or which side of the aisle we call home. Its survivors – 12 million of us throughout the US – deserve every bit of support we can muster. The Lance Armstrong Foundation will continue working to expand access to healthcare as we always have.

(Side thought: if the US had a single-payer, national health service then would neither Planned Parenthood nor the Komen foundation need to exist?)

1.04pm: The Susan G Komen foundation versus Planned Parenthood isn’t going away, despite the Komen board’s apology.

The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent talks to a Komen board member about the Komen’s future funding for Planned Parenthood:

I asked Komen board member John Raffaelli to respond to those who are now saying that the announcement doesn’t necessarily constitute a reversal until Planned Parenthood actually sees more funding. He insisted it would be unfair to expect the group to commit to future grants.

“It would be highly unfair to ask us to commit to any organization that doesn’t go through a grant process that shows that the money we raise is used to carry out our mission,” Raffaelli told me. “We’re a humaniatrian organization. We have a mission. Tell me you can help carry out our mission and we will sit down at the table.

For background, here’s an earlier piece: Five myths about Planned Parenthood

12.47pm: The New York Times’s Nate Silver explains in detail why the US unemployment figures are a big deal during a presidential election year:

No economic indicator is the holy grail. The American economy is a hard thing to measure, and initial estimates of economic performance are subject to significant revisions…. But if you want to focus a single economic indicator, job growth during the presidential election year — especially as measured by the series called nonfarm payrolls — has a lot going for it.

Warning: article contains the phrase: “if you run a regression analysis…”

12.21pm: Mitt Romney is up on his hind legs in Las Vegas, campaigning befopre the foregone conclusion that is Saturday’s Nevada caucus.

He’s trying to retool his message somewhat in the face of the latest unemployment figures, so that it is now basically: “It should have been more.”

But then it’s back to the Romney stump speech that we have come to know and loath from New Hampshire onwards – including a brief tour through the lyrics of America the Beautiful.

12 noon: Donald Trump’s endorsement of Mitt Romney made a few people queasy – and the Obama campaign was quick to capitalise with a fundraising email to supporters:

Yesterday, Mitt Romney said he was ‘humbled’ to accept Donald Trump’s endorsement. Seriously. Yes, Donald Trump – birth certificate conspiracy leader – has decided that Mitt Romney’s his guy, and Romney has embraced him without reservation. He made a speech and even sent out a press release welcoming him.

11.46am: After the latest jaunty jobs figures, President Obama appears at a fire station in Arlington, Virginia.

In brief remarks before urging Congress to pass a bill helping US military veterans find work, Obama said the US economy is going strong and that the recovery was speeding up – although he cautioned: “These numbers will go up and down in the coming months.”

Obama then called on Congress to extend the payroll tax cut:

I want to send a message to Congress: do not slow down the recovery we are on. Don’t muck it up. Keep it moving in the right direction.

11.22am: After three days of controversy over its decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood‘s breast cancer screening programme, the Susan G Komen foundation backs down.

Here’s the statement from Susan G Komen board of directors and chief executive Nancy Brinker:

We want to apologise to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives. The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G Komen. We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not.

Our original desire was to fulfill our fiduciary duty to our donors by not funding grant applications made by organizations under investigation. We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair.

Our only goal for our granting process is to support women and families in the fight against breast cancer. Amending our criteria will ensure that politics has no place in our grant process. We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities.

That about-turn is met with dismay by anti-abortion activists who had been quick to support the decision by Komen, seeing it as further isolating Planned Parenthood:

The net outcome for Komen is the worst of all possible world: they have now managed to outrage both sides.

This one, as they say, will run and run.

10.50am: While Mitt Romney continues to reap his financial and organisational advantages in Nevada, some conservatives are unhappy to discover another position Romney took while governor of Massachusetts.

The Boston Globe reports:

Mitt Romney accused President Obama this week of ordering “religious organizations to violate their conscience,” referring to a White House decision that requires all health plans – even those covering employees at Catholic hospitals, charities, and colleges – to provide free birth control. But a review of Romney’s tenure as Massachusetts governor shows that he once took a similar step.

In December 2005, Romney required all Massachusetts hospitals, including Catholic ones, to provide emergency contraception to rape victims, even though some Catholics view the morning-after pill as a form of abortion.

Cue much grumbling among religious conservatives, who are ramping up attacks on the Obama administration over just this issue.

If the economy recovers, exactly what is Mitt Romney left to complain about the Obama administration?

10.22am: Video has surfaced of Rick Santorum telling the mother of sick child she shouldn’t have a problem paying $1m to keep her son alive.

Speaking in Woodland Park, Colorado, Santorum told the mother of a child with a rare genetic disorder, “People have no problem paying $900 for an iPad but paying $900 for a drug they have a problem with — it keeps you alive. Why? Because you’ve been conditioned to think health care is something you can get without having to pay for it.” The mother’s son is prescribed Abilify, which can cost up to $1m a year without health insurance. Santorum argued that demand should set the price for drugs:

He’s alive today because drug companies provide care. And if they didn’t think they could make money providing that drug, that drug wouldn’t be here…. Fact is, we need companies to have incentives to make drugs. If they don’t have incentives, they won’t make those drugs.

10am: While Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich squabble in Nevada on the final day of campaigning before Saturday’s GOP presidential caucus, the big story of the day is the surprisingly good national job figures.

The US unemployment rate dipped to 8.3% in January – where it was when Barack Obama took office in 2009 – thanks to a buoyant 240,000 growth in jobs during the month, suggesting that a recovery is finally gathering steam.

The White House was exultant about the figures, while Republicans were dismayed since the fall in unemployment tends to undermine its central case against Obama’s re-election, especially if Mitt Romney wins the GOP nomination.

Here’s a round-up of the latest news on the campaign trail, from Ryan Devereaux:

• Mitt Romney continues to dominate the polls heading into the upcoming Nevada caucuses. Public Policy Polling has the former Massachusetts governor on 50% while Newt Gingrich has 25%. In a reversal of yesterday’s Las Vegas Review-Journal poll, PPP has Ron Paul ahead of Rick Santorum with 15% for the Texas congressman and 8% for Santorum.

• Romney is understandably winning the large Mormon vote, leading Paul 78-14. PPP projects Mormons will account for 20% of the vote in Nevada. Romney’s support from his fellow Mormons is not without some controversy, however. The New York Times notes that his hardline views on immigration have conflicted the church’s accepting approach to the issue.

• While PPP reports that Gingrich is decidedly disliked in Nevada – only 41% of respondents said they had a favorable opinion of him – multi-millionaire Mitt Romney has received the support of fellow super-rich guy, Donald Trump. Yesterday Trump announced his official endorsement of Romney: “He’s not going to allow bad things to continue to happen to this country that we all love.”

• Minnesota’s house speaker and majority leader have also climbed on to the Romney bandwagon before Minnesota’s caucuses next Tuesday. The AP reports speaker Kurt Zellers will make his announcement later today. Romney wasn’t Zellers’ first choice for the Republican nomination: he originally backed Tim Pawlenty and then endorsed Michele Bachmann.

• Romney has condemned President Obama’s plan to pull US troops out of Afghanistan next year as “naive” and “misguided.” Speaking at a warehouse in Las Vegas, Romney said that he didn’t understand why the president would announce his time table for withdrawal.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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