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Feb. 5, 2012 at 6:00 PM   |   Comments

Armey sees Gingrich campaign flagging

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Dick Armey, a leader of both the Tea Party and the Republican hierarchy, said Sunday Newt Gingrich's presidential primary campaign may be running out of gas.

Armey told CNN's "State of the Union" he does not think Gingrich can replicate his South Carolina upset of front-runner Mitt Romney in other states.

"I think he has played that string out," Armey said. "In the meantime, Mitt continues to work along at a steady pace, and we are left with a dilemma that we are not going to get a reliable, small-government conservative out of this nominating process."

Armey said he believes the Tea Party crowd could get behind Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, despite his seemingly moderate stances, and would count on Republicans in Congress to drive the conservative agenda.

"Our notion is, we will get the legislative initiative coming out of a conservative-dominated House and Senate," he said.

Gingrich, a former House speaker from Georgia, predicted he would indeed pick up steam in February by unveiling "bold" initiatives on thorny issues such as welfare, Social Security and taxes that would distinguish himself from Romney, who he called "not very distinguishable from" President Obama.

"My goal is to show there is a way to change Washington that is different from Obama and Romney," Gingrich said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania vowed Sunday the primaries are not yet a two-man race.

Despite losing more ground to Romney and Gingrich in the Florida and Nevada contests, the two dark horses told the Sunday news shows they are still in the race.

Santorum predicted the Romney-Gingrich victory streak could become breakable as the campaign slogs on since the two leaders will be getting into relatively unknown territory compared with the early primary states.

"The first five states were sort of cast in stone," Santorum told "Fox News Sunday."

"Now, we are getting to the states where people don't have the natural advantage, don't have the time commitment, the staff commitment to really build out an organization like they did in these first five," Santorum said. "I think we're going to do very well here in Minnesota. I think we're going to do very well in Colorado, and we've got a one-on-one match-up against Mitt Romney in Missouri."

David Axelrod, a top Obama adviser, agreed with Santorum, telling NBC's "Meet the Press" he already sees Romney losing steam.

"I believe this will go on for a while," he said.

"Independent voters are fleeing Governor Romney now and his numbers are falling," said Axelrod, who needled Romney for supposedly "pandering" to the right wing of the GOP. "He's underwater nationally."

Paul, who has failed to post any wins despite a dedicated base of supporters, admitted he couldn't predict when or if he would win a primary; however, he would continue on to Colorado and Minnesota, which hold their Republican caucuses Tuesday.

Paul told ABC's "This Week" Romney in particular would have to work to secure the support of Paul voters, particularly by adopting more of Paul's economic ideas.

"I think Mitt can change his mind," Paul said. "He's changed his mind in the past and if he hears from our young people and voters, then yeah, he's going to change his mind, if there's a political benefit to it."


Arctic conditions cripple Europe

LONDON, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Perilous arctic weather conditions across Europe have killed more than 220 people and left many cut off from services, officials say.

Ukraine, which has been hit the hardest, has seen 120 people freeze to death, the highest death toll so far. Bodies continue to be found, with more than 220 dead across Eastern Europe.

A state of emergency has been declared in Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, which is buried in more than 3 feet of snow. Several water shortages have been reported, and many people are trapped in their cars, Britain's The Guardian newspaper reported. Helicopters were dispatched to evacuate the sick in parts of Bosnia that are cut off by the country's highest snowfall on record.

In Bulgaria, 15 people have been found dead at the side of the road or in unheated houses. Deaths have also been reported in France and Poland, and record snowfalls in Italy, Algeria and several Mediterranean islands.

In England, more than 60 car accidents have been reported in the North Yorkshire region due to about 6 inches of snow. The Met office issued nine warnings after snow began to turn into ice across U.K. roadways, the BBC reports.


Occupy Pittsburgh breaks camp

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- The Occupy Pittsburgh encampment closed down Sunday following a judge's order to vacate a park owned by BNY Mellon, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

The protesters had been at the site since October. An Allegheny County judge Friday granted BNY Mellon's request to have the park cleared because they were trespassing and creating a nuisance, the newspaper said.

Super Bowl Sunday was otherwise quiet around other Occupy campsites. About 120 Occupy Austin, Texas, members marched Saturday night but did not announce a response to the city's closure of their encampment.

CNN said the Occupy Oakland, Calif., group held a march Saturday that was peaceful and a marked contrast to the previous week, when tear gas and bean-bag bullets flew and more than 400 people were hauled off to jail.

A Web site called the Occupy Oakland Tactical Action Committee included a posting Saturday blasting the police and vowing things might not be so tranquil in the future.


Sept. 11 responders' settlements slashed

NEW YORK, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Miscalculations have led to reductions in the settlement payouts many ailing responders to New York's Ground Zero have received, a lawyer said.

The dollar value of each point given to workers for the severity of their illnesses was recently set at $7.36, below the $7.50 to $9.19 range first estimated, the New York Post reported Sunday.

"Obviously, it was a big mistake. They miscalculated the total number of points awarded, so the value dropped significantly," said a lawyer in the case whose name wasn't reported.

The responders are currently getting the final payments of their $680 million settlement with New York City, which was agreed upon by 95 percent of the 10,000 police officers, firefighters, hard hats and other workers who filed claims.

"We didn't get what they told us we were going to get," said one worker whose name wasn't reported.

In one case, a NYPD detective diagnosed with asthma and other ailments was estimated to receive between $532,826 and $650,267. His award came to $115,480, which was reduced to $79,292 after lawyers' fees.

His lawyers initially claimed 60,000 points for the detective's asthma, but that number was rejected and reduced to 7,500 points by the courts.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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