Steve Benen: Disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich recently boasted that presidential campaigns as extraordinary as his are only seen “once or twice in a century.” He may have been onto something. After all, it takes a special kind of presidential candidate to go on vacation three weeks after launching a campaign:
…..Gingrich has raised eyebrows among supporters and political observers by taking a vacation with his wife – during the same week prominent religious conservatives are gathering in Washington. Gingrich, who has been married three times, has been aggressively courting the religious conservatives, including many of the “pro-marriage” activists gathering in Washington.
Sure, everyone takes breaks, but Gingrich has been a candidate for three weeks. To borrow a 2008 cliche, if the former Speaker can’t even handle a month on the campaign trail without a vacation, how in the world does he expect to handle the pressure of being the president of the United States?
Marketwatch: New applications for U.S. jobless benefits fell by 20,000 to 368,000 in the week of Feb. 26, the lowest level in nearly three years, the Labor Department reported Thursday.The last time claims were that low was in May 2008.
Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected first-time jobless claims to rise to a seasonally adjusted 398,000 from last week’s revised level of 388,000.
….The four-week average is considered a more accurate gauge of employment trends because it lessens week-to-week volatility in the data. The decline in claims, which have fallen 27% since last August, appears to be consistent with a modest pace or hiring and fewer layoffs.
Continuing claims, meanwhile, declined by 59,000 to 3.77 million in the week of Feb. 19. About 9.24 million people received some kind of state or federal benefit in the week of Feb. 12, up 74,000 from the week before.
Washington Post: Stocks jumped Thursday after a government report showed that the number of people filing for unemployment benefits dropped unexpectedly last week. Retailers also reported solid February sales.
The Labor Department said first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell to 368,000. That’s the lowest level for claims since May 2008. Economists had expected them to rise.
BBC: Barack Obama and his wife Michelle will visit the UK on their first official state visit in May. US presidents who have met the Queen have mostly stayed in London, but where else in the UK might the Obamas travel?
The Obamas’ planned visit to the UK in May is their second trip to the country, but the first as official guests of the British Royal Family.
Since the turn of the 20th Century, 11 American presidents have made the trip across the Atlantic. Most have stayed in London, visiting Buckingham Palace, Downing Street and other sights on the diplomatic tourist trail.
….President Obama might consider a trip to Bracknell where his half sister Auma used to live and, it is thought, his step mother Kezia still does. A short train ride from London, the commuter town might not be an obvious choice for a world leader, but Mr Obama has already made a trip to the area. Before he became president he attended his former brother-in-law’s stag do in nearby Wokingham…..