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POSTED April 4, 2012 8:34 p.m.

HATCH: OBAMA MIGHT ATTACK ROMNEY ON MORMON FAITH: SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Democratic leaders on Wednesday dismissed Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch's warning to supporters that Democrats might attack the Mormon faith of Mitt Romney during the presidential campaign.

The chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, described that suggestion as "preposterous" and "utter nonsense." During an interview with MSNBC, she said the party wouldn't stoop to the same levels as Republicans.

"Let's remember that President Obama has had so many things hurled at him — birth certificate questions, whether he is or is not a Christian," Wasserman Schultz said. "For them to suggest that religion will be injected by President Obama and the Democratic Party, I mean, I think they need to take a look inward at the accusations that their party and their supporters have hurled before they take that step."

Hatch made the remark in response to a question at a political event Tuesday night in northern Utah, said his campaign manager, Dave Hansen. Hatch, also a Mormon, is seeking a seventh term in the Senate.

HOLDER: JUSTICE DEPARTMENT WILL RESPOND TO JUDGE: CHICAGO (AP) — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday that the Justice Department will respond "appropriately" to a federal appellate judge in Texas who demanded a letter recognizing federal courts' authority to strike down laws passed by Congress.

Holder spoke a day after 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jerry Smith questioned President Barack Obama's remarks this week about an "unelected" court possibly striking down the president's health care overhaul. Smith, during oral arguments in a separate challenge to the health law, asked the Justice Department for a three-page, single-spaced letter affirming the federal court's authority.

When asked during a Wednesday news conference in Chicago what an appropriate response to Smith would be, Holder said, "I think what the president said a couple of days ago was appropriate. He indicated that we obviously respect the decisions that courts make."

"Under our system of government ... courts have the final say on the constitutionality of statutes," Holder said. "The courts are also fairly deferential when it comes to overturning statutes that the duly elected representatives of the people, Congress, pass."

The White House, meanwhile, struggled for a third day to explain Obama's original remark that a Supreme Court reversal of the case would be "unprecedented."

HAWAII SURFER BITTEN BY SHARK SAYS HE'LL BE BACK: WAIALUA, Hawaii (AP) — The surfer bitten by a 10-foot shark off Hawaii won't let the ordeal keep him out of the water.

Joshua Holley got 42 stitches on his left foot and will need surgery to repair severed tendons after a shark chomped on his foot as he surfed off Oahu's North Shore on Tuesday. But he told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser he plans to return to the waves as soon as doctors say it's OK.

Holley believes he was attacked by a tiger shark.

OHIO EXECUTION CAN PROCEED, FEDERAL JUDGE RULES: COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio's first execution in six months can proceed, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying the state had narrowly demonstrated it was serious about following its own lethal injection procedures.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost ends an unofficial moratorium dating to November, when members of the state execution team deviated from the official injection procedures when putting a Cleveland man to death.

The changes were minor — failing to properly check a box on a medical form, for example — but they angered Frost, who had previously criticized the state for failing to follow its rules.

SOME HISPANICS WANT TO TELL MORE ABOUT BACKGROUND: WASHINGTON (AP) — A majority of Hispanics prefer to identify themselves according to their families' countries of origin, rather than by the government's suggested terms "Hispanic" or "Latino," Pew Hispanic Center reported Wednesday.

The description preferred by 51 percent of Hispanics is Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban or other culture they are tied to through family or ancestry. About a quarter surveyed said they identify as Latino or Hispanic first and a fifth said they tend to say American, according to Pew's survey. About 50 million people in the U.S. are Hispanic.

Although Latinos have long maintained they are not a monolithic group, the complexity of Hispanic identity has drawn renewed interest amid the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager, by George Zimmerman, whose father is white and mother is Hispanic, of Peruvian ancestry.

Police and early media reports described Zimmerman as white, but his father has defended his son against allegations of racial profiling by describing him as a "Spanish-speaking minority."

FORMER S. DAKOTA SEN. GEORGE MCGOVERN HOSPITALIZED: SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Former South Dakota senator and Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern has been hospitalized in Florida, his daughter said Wednesday.

Ann McGovern told The Associated Press her 89-year-old father was admitted to Flagler Hospital in St. Augustine, Fla., on Tuesday evening for tests to figure out why he occasionally passes out and loses his ability to speak, she said.

 

 

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