(CNN) - Henry McMaster, the South Carolina Attorney General now running for governor, has largely stayed above the fray as the Republican primary race has descended into a circus-like den of sex allegations, blog innuendo and racial slurs.
McMaster sought to capture the moral high ground Friday with a message to his GOP rivals: Knock it off.
"The behavior of my opponents, their campaigns and their supporters over the last few weeks has not served our state well. In fact, it's been embarrassing," McMaster said in a statement. "South Carolina is a wonderful state, blessed with talented people, abundant resources and unlimited potential. Success is ours for the taking. And it's time we start acting like it."
Washington (CNN) - The nation's unemployment rate fell to 9.7 percent in May, the Labor Department reported Friday.
That's a drop of two-tenths of a percent from April's 9.9 percent level. Analysts had expected to rate to fall to 9.8 percent.
The Labor Department also reports that the economy added 431,000 jobs in May, the biggest monthly gain since March of 2000. But economists had forecasted a gain of 500,000 jobs.
Of the jobs added, 390,000 were in the government, with the private sector adding 41,000 jobs, down from 218,000 in April.
A top Congressional Republican was quick to react to the report.
"Count me among the millions of Americans who welcome a jobs report that shows jobs gained rather than more jobs lost," said Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House Republican Whip. "But a look beneath the numbers should give this Administration – and every American – cause for concern. We have to begin to address the structural deficiencies in our economy. Temporary or government jobs are not optimal, and private sector job growth simply isn't keeping pace with a growing labor force."
President Barack Obama is expected to comment on the unemployment report later Friday morning.
UPDATE 9:22 a.m.:
"I welcome job growth any day, week or month of the year, but the figures released today need to be stamped with 'Buyer Beware'," says Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, in a statement.
"The underlying fact is that 9.7 percent unemployment is unacceptable by any standard. No amount of spin will resolve the fact that the President's policies have been a colossal failure when it comes to creating jobs. If his speech in Pennsylvania was any indication, President Obama has no intention of slowing his high-spending, big-government agenda that prevents the private sector from creating the jobs we need to put our economy back on track," adds Steele.
- CNN's Scott Spoerry contributed to this report
Washington (CNN) - Mark Preston has been promoted to CNN's Senior Political Editor.
"Mark's sources in the political world are extraordinary and have led Mark to break story after story after story for CNN," said Sam Feist, CNN Political Director and Vice President of the network's Washington programming.
"In addition to helping guide our coverage during the 2008 campaign, Mark's strong political relationships were essential to CNN landing and producing more presidential primary debates/forums than any other network, which were a key factor in CNN's winning the Peabody award for our coverage of the 2008 Presidential primaries and debates," added Feist.
(CNN) - They were once bitter rivals. But that's so 2007 and early 2008, when John McCain and Mitt Romney were battling for the Republican presidential nomination.
Friday they team up in Arizona, as the former Massachusetts governor helps campaign for Sen. McCain, who's battling for a fifth term in office.
Romney, who may make another bid for the White House, is scheduled to be a special guest at a McCain town hall meeting in Mesa, according to the senator's campaign. McCain is facing a tough primary challenge from the right launched by former seven-term Rep. JD Hayworth, who most recently was a popular conservative radio talk show host. The two will face off in Arizona's August 24 primary.
After dropping out of the hunt for the presidency in early 2008, Romney quickly backed McCain and campaigned for the GOP nominee in the general election. He has endorsed McCain's Senate re-election bid and campaigned for the senator in Arizona in March, when Romney was in Phoenix for a book signing.
Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn
(CNN) - President Barack Obama's scheduled trip to Australia and Indonesia this month will be postponed, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement released late Thursday.
Gibbs said the visit would be rescheduled, but did not say why Obama had decided not to make the trip.
The delay comes as his administration is facing one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history, with up to 798,000 gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico daily from a ruptured undersea well.
"This is imperiling an entire way of life, and an entire region for potentially years," Obama said on CNN's "Larry King Live" Thursday.
It was the third time the trip had been postponed. In March, Obama postponed his visit to Australia and Indonesia twice to remain in Washington for the House vote on the health care bill.
Gibbs said Obama spoke with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono Thursday night and "expressed his deep regret that he has to postpone his trip."
The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com
CNNMoney: White House sends BP a $69 million bill
The Obama administration has sent a $69 million bill to BP for the U.S. government's efforts to help deal with the energy company's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The current $69 million bill accounts for 75% of what BP owes to date, and the company has until July 1 to pay the full amount, an administration official said Thursday. The Obama administration will bill BP regularly for costs related to the spill, according to the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command, which is the government and industry task force managing the spill response.
CNN: For new ad campaign, BP looks outside Madison Avenue
Energy giant BP has hired a Washington-based, bipartisan political consulting firm to produce its new aggressive national advertising push, including a national TV spot released Thursday, CNN has learned. Sources familiar with the arrangement say that Purple Strategies, headed up by veteran political consultants Steve McMahon, a Democrat, and Alex Castellanos, a Republican, produced new advertisements now running on both television and in newspapers. The sources say that BP hired Purple Strategies to produce what will likely be a series of advertisements as part of BP's attempt to rehabilitate its battered image.
Bloomberg: ‘Drill, Baby, Drill’ May Haunt Republican Effort to Taint Obama
Republicans’ embrace of offshore oil drilling and their skepticism of “big” government may hamper the party’s efforts to gain politically from President Barack Obama’s handling of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, who heads the Republican Governors Association, has said the BP Plc oil spill that followed the April 20 explosion of a deepwater rig is no reason for the U.S. to abandon offshore oil and gas exploration. As oil washes ashore in Gulf Coast states, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, also a Republican, sent a letter to Obama this week expressing “grave concerns” with the president’s decision to suspend activity at 33 deepwater rigs. “They’re kind of stuck because they’re the party of ’Drill, Baby, Drill,’” said David Lanoue, head of the political science department of the University of Alabama, referring to a Republican slogan during the 2008 presidential campaign. “If you’re an ambitious Republican governor, where do you go with this?”
CNN Poll: Obama at 48 percent approval at 500 day mark
As President Barack Obama marks 500 days in the White House, a new average of the most recent national polls indicates that less than half of the public approves of the job he's doing in office. According to a CNN Poll of Polls, 48 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama's doing, with 45 percent saying they disapprove of the president's performance. This stands in sharp contrast to Obama's popularity after his first 100 days in office, which was at 63 percent in a CNN Poll of Polls compiled for that occasion.
CNN Poll: Tea Party candidate in Nevada surging
A new poll suggests that a Tea Party-backed candidate is now in the lead in the battle for Nevada's Republican Senate nomination. According to a Suffolk University Political Research Center survey released Thursday morning, 33 percent state GOP voters back Sharron Angle in Tuesday's primary. The former member of the Nevada Assembly has won the endorsements and help in recent months of many conservative organizations, including the Tea Party Express and the Club for Growth. The poll indicates that 26 percent support Las Vegas businessman and former University of Nevada Las Vegas basketball star Danny Tarkanian, with businesswoman and former Nevada Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Lowden at 25 percent. The remaining candidates in the field of 13 bidding for the Republican Senate nomination are in single digits in the survey.