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March 6, 2012 at 8:09 AM   |   Comments

Romney, Santorum neck and neck in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 6 (UPI) -- Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum were tied in Ohio heading into Super Tuesday's Republican presidential primaries and caucuses in 10 states, polls indicated.

Romney led Santorum 34 percent to 31 percent in a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday of likely Republican primary voters -- but the difference was within the poll's 3.6 percentage-point margin of error.

The same survey had Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, leading Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, 36 percent to 29 percent a week ago.

A second poll released Monday by Suffolk University showed Santorum at 37 percent in Ohio to Romney's 33 percent, but again within the margin of error, which in this case was 4.4 points.

Ohio, which has 63 delegates at stake, is widely viewed as a bellwether for how the Rust Belt might vote in the November election. Analysts say what happens Tuesday could signal whether Santorum's appeal is growing or fading.

Other Super Tuesday primaries include Georgia, Massachusetts, Vermont, Virginia, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Caucuses are held in Idaho, North Dakota and Alaska.

The total number of delegates at stake is 437.


White House: News conference not political

WASHINGTON, March 6 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama's news conference Tuesday is not timed to shift attention away from Super Tuesday's 10 Republican primaries, the White House said.

The news conference, set for 1:15 p.m. EST in the Brady Press Briefing Room, is Obama's first since Nov. 14 when he held one during a U.S.-hosted Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Hawaii, and holding it Tuesday made sense, the White House said.

Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the White House Monday, with the two leaders failing to resolve basic differences over how to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat, a White House official told The New York Times.

A number of media outlets questioned the news conference's timing, coming on the biggest day yet in the Republican presidential campaign. Ten states hold caucuses and primaries with more than 400 delegates at stake, or more than a third of the total a candidate needs to clinch the nomination.

The Los Angeles Times called the timing "the latest curious bit of counter-programming by the White House tied to the Republican race for president."


New attacks as U.N. envoys to visit Syria

DAMASCUS, Syria, March 6 (UPI) -- Syria agreed to let the top U.N. relief official and newly designated U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan visit, but widened its crackdown to other restive areas.

Valerie Amos, the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief, said the regime of President Bashar Assad gave her permission to visit Syria for three days starting Wednesday.

The regime had refused for a month to let Amos visit.

She said she intended "to urge all sides to allow unhindered access for humanitarian relief workers so they can evacuate the wounded and deliver essential supplies."

The International Committee of the Red Cross -- the only relief agency permitted in Syria -- said Monday a Red Cross and Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy arrived in the hard-hit central-western city of Homs.


Yemeni president vows to fight al-Qaida

SANAA, Yemen, March 6 (UPI) -- Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi vowed to drive out al-Qaida as the death toll from a militant attack in his home province of Abyan mounted.

"We are unwaveringly resolved to keep the fight against al-Qaida and we will chase them to every cache until they are eradicated, no matter what the cost is going to be," Hadi said Monday.

The Yemen Post said the comments came a day after an ambush by militants, linked to a branch of al-Qaida, on a military post in Abyan province in southern Yemen, killed dozens.

The New York Times, quoting government spokesman Mohammed Albasha, reported at least 90 soldiers died in the attack on the military base on a road between Aden and Zinjibar, capital of Abyan, which has been the scene of fighting between militants and security forces for months.


Egyptian pipeline to Israel bombed again

CAIRO, March 6 (UPI) -- The Egyptian pipeline that supplies gas to Israel and Jordan was bombed for the 13th time since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, officials said.

The attack occurred Monday in the coastal town of al-Arish, Egyptian officials told Ahram Online.

Six armed men in two trucks arrived at the site and planted two bombs that were detonated by remote control, the state-run Iranian television network Press TV said Tuesday.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, Ahram Online said, noting the lack of police presence in the area since the ouster of the former Egyptian president.

Ahram Online said many Egyptians view the deal Mubarak signed with Israel some 20 years ago as unpopular and say Israel is not paying enough for the gas.

The BBC said the pipeline was repaired last week after it was shut down Feb. 5 due to a previous explosion.

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