Political news

This past weekend was an odd one on the campaign trail. First, as NPR's Don Gonyea reported on Morning Edition, a muscled pizza man was so excited to see President Obama, he hugged him and picked him up a full foot off the ground.

Then there's Vice President Joe Biden who, um, canoodled with a biker lady at a Seaman, Ohio, diner.

The picture captured by Carolyn Kaster of The Associated Press is priceless:

Early in his acceptance speech last night, President Obama laid out the voters' task in these words:

"On every issue, the choice you face won't be just between two candidates or two parties. It will be a choice ... between two fundamentally different visions for the future."

Framing the coming election as a choice between fundamentally different visions, President Obama offered himself to the country Thursday as a fire-tested leader ready to finish the job he started.

"Our problems can be solved," Obama said. "Our challenges can be met."

It was an older, battle-scarred nominee who faced his party in Charlotte, N.C. This message of hope was tempered and longer-view — a good distance if not a full turn from the vision he offered four years ago when he accepted the nomination in a thundering Denver stadium.

If you missed the last night of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., we live blogged it here.

But if you want a quick review, we've compiled five things that struck us about the night:

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Democratic candidate for state auditor was once accused in court files of stealing artwork from the offices of a company where he worked.

President Obama still has a case to make for a second term, and specific people to whom he needs to make it.

But while it's two months too early to call former President Bill Clinton Obama's closer, he came about as close as it gets Wednesday night at the Democratic convention with a bravura defense of the current White House occupant.

"We are here to nominate a president," Clinton said after strolling onto the stage to tumultuous applause, "and I've got one in mind."

Investigators are working to determine the legitimacy of a claim that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's tax records have been stolen from an accounting firm's records.

Naming a million-dollar price, an anonymous ransom note was sent to accounting firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers. The letter, which was also posted online, gets right to the point: "Using your Office... we were able to gain access to your network file servers and copy over the tax documents for one Willard M Romney and Ann D Romney."

The note's author signs off with a perky "Cheers!"

A government transparency group is urging an investigation into Federal Aviation Administration managers who allegedly urged workers in Seattle to vote Democrat in the upcoming elections.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Republican Governors Association has started airing its first television ad against Democrat Jay Inslee in Washington state, where the former U.S. representative is running for governor against Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna.

There was one undeniably sweet moment, last night: As San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro got to the part of his speech where he mentioned his wife and his 3-year-old daughter, the camera panned over to Carina.

It seemed like she noticed herself on the big screens at the arena, because suddenly she stuck out our her tongue and flipped her hair.

As Democrats gather in North Carolina for their convention, there’s new research from the Northwest on the power of partisan rhetoric. Turns out, your core political beliefs can trump your education level when it comes to understanding the basic facts of a high contentious issue.

The Affordable Care Act. ObamaCare. Whatever you call it, it’s provided countless hours of fodder to the cable television networks.

From Glen Beck on Fox News:

“You don’t play ball with them now. If you don’t get into their government health care there will be jail time.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The group seeking to overturn Washington's gay marriage law has changed its website instructions to churches that want to raise money for the effort, but state campaign finance officials say that the language is still not in compliance with state law.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Two former members of the state Legislature say it is time for lawmakers to eliminate campaign surplus accounts.

She is perhaps the Northwest’s most famous new age spiritual leader. JZ Knight of the Ramtha School of Enlightenment in Southwest Washington. Now Knight has a new role: major political donor. She recently wrote a $50,000 check to the state Democratic Party.

JZ Knight says she’s always been political. But she was reluctant to associate herself with the candidates she supports.

It's been the political world's obsession for weeks leading into the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Would nominee Mitt Romney manage what would be miraculous for any candidate, and in a handful of days and one big speech wash away the problems of a modern candidacy?

Turns out Romney's moment Thursday night was a fine one, if not a great one.

His speech continued the campaign's concerted effort to reach out to skeptical female voters, reminding the audience that his strong mother ran for Senate.

The candidates for Washington governor sparred over taxes and personal tax returns in their second official debate Wednesday night. The face-off took place on the Vancouver campus of Washington State University.

On stage, Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna stood elbow-to-elbow at podiums. But on the issues they were far apart.

Early in the debate they were asked to critique each other’s plans for getting Washington’s economy going again. McKenna said business owners aren’t buying Inslee’s proposed Research and Development tax credit.

A secret service agent accidentally left her gun inside the lavatory of Mitt Romney's campaign plane.

CBS News reports that the loaded gun was found by one of its reporters who was travelling with the Republican presidential nominee from Tampa to Indianapolis, Ind., where Romney was scheduled to deliver a speech.

If you missed some of Wednesday's action at the Republican National Convention, when Rep. Paul Ryan accepted his party's vice presidential nomination, we were live blogging here and you can always read through it to see how the day and evening went.

But if you'd like to save some time, here are five things that struck us:

If you missed some of Tuesday's action at the Republican National Convention, we were live blogging here and you can always read through it to see how the day and evening went.

But if you'd like to save some time, here are five things that struck us:

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The state's campaign finance watchdog says the state's Catholic churches can't collect donations from parishioners for the campaign seeking to overturn the state's gay marriage law.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna says he will not release any of his tax returns, calling the matter a distraction from important issues.

Great Beyond / Flickr

Seattle public libraries are closed this week, in an effort to cope with budget cuts. That inspired some locals to take matters into their own hands, establishing a temporary, outdoor “People’s Library.”

This is the fourth year Seattle libraries have taken a furlough week to save money, stranding would-be readers, internet users and stir-crazy parents. Among the exasperated were University of Washington graduate student Yates Coley and her friends.

The Associated Press

Former Seattle councilwoman Cheryl Chow has brain cancer and says she has one more thing she wants to do before she dies.

She told KING-TV she is coming out and telling people she is gay after being secretive for more than 60 years. She wants to encourage others to not be afraid to tell their parents or children the truth.

In Tampa, Fla., a week ahead of their national convention, Republicans are drawing up their party platform. There are muted disagreements over a few issues, such as immigration and same-sex marriage. But at least within the platform committee, one of the least controversial issues discussed this week is abortion.

With little discussion, the committee on Tuesday adopted the same anti-abortion language it included in GOP platforms in 2004 and 2008. It seeks passage of a constitutional amendment that would extend legal rights to the unborn, essentially banning abortion.

Based on book sales, Republicans are dominating Democrats in most of the country (including Washington state), according to a new “election heat map” created by book retailer Amazon.com.

SPOKANE, Wash. — A controversial photo of state Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane, standing in front of his Democratic challenger's house has become a political hot potato for Republicans.

The chairman of the Spokane County Republican Party is trying to persuade Shea to remove the photo from his Facebook page. Amy Biviano, the Democrat challenging Shea, has accused Shea of trying to intimidate her by posting the photo of her home and refusing to take it down.

Missouri Congressman Todd Akin, the Republican who's challenging Democrat Claire McCaskill for the U.S. Senate seat, said in a television interview Sunday that it's "rare" for women to become pregnant when they are raped.

"If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," he said in an interview with KTVI, a St. Louis television station.

Above: The first of many thousands lined up early today to enter Hempfest, Seattle's mega pro-pot festival.

For more than 20 years, the Seattle Hempfest festival, rally and outdoor party has pushed for the decriminalization and mainstreaming of marijuana.

But as this year’s event gets underway today, with more than 300,000 expected over the weekend, regulations contained in an initiative that would legalize pot have split many advocates.

It seemed normal enough when President Obama chatted with a coffee shop patron about beer in Iowa Tuesday. The president has shown he's a fan of beer — and it's the most politically expedient, "everyman" beverage a candidate can drink. But then the president told a man at Knoxville, Iowa's Coffee Connection cafe that he travels with his own home-brew — and gave him a bottle to prove it.