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TOP OF THE TICKET : Sanford's wife backs his ex-ally

November 15, 2009|Andrew Malcolm and Johanna Neuman

She is the political wife who bucked tradition. When scandal struck her husband, the governor of South Carolina, she did not stand by his side. Instead, Jenny Sanford packed up her things and their four children and moved out of the governor's mansion for the family's home on Sullivan's Island.

On Thursday she issued a letter supporting another "principled, conservative, tough and smart" woman in the crowded Republican primary to succeed Mark Sanford. (You may recall that the governor, who once had presidential aspirations, went AWOL last summer, telling his staff he was hiking along the Appalachian Trail while he was actually in Argentina romping with his mistress.)

Jenny Sanford's pick for the state's next governor -- Nikki Haley -- was once a strong ally of Gov. Sanford, but in the wake of the scandal over his disappearance and his affair, she distanced herself, removing his photo from her campaign website.

This is one endorsement that could actually carry some weight. Jenny Sanford, a former Wall Street executive, was instrumental in managing her husband's campaigns, and has a network of supporters around the state. "It sends a signal that you might not be wasting your vote," said Danielle Vinson, a political scientist at Furman University.

In a letter first reported by South Carolina's State newspaper, Jenny Sanford also talked about how her family is coping in the aftermath of the national scandal.

"We all know this past year has been difficult for our state on many levels," Sanford wrote. "It's been hard for me and my family too. But our family is resilient, and we will be fine. And the people of our state are resilient too. I have no doubt South Carolina will get back on its feet."

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Want fries with that barbed wire?

With the U.S. unemployment rate now having climbed into double digits and no dip in sight, despite Vice President Joe Biden's optimistic talk, here's one job opening that's, well, still open.

Can't imagine why.

McDonald's is looking for an assistant manager willing to relocate to the one McDonald's burger joint on the communist island of Cuba. That McDonald's is, however, still able to serve freedom fries because it's located on the 45-square-mile U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay.

Yes, yes, on his first workday after experiencing Aretha Franklin's inaugural hat, President Obama promised to close the prison at Guantanamo within one year.

That promise, like a few others, has been delayed indefinitely, however, because not even Delaware has offered to take any of the terrorist detainees kept there.

And, anyway, the promise involves only about 215 of the American base's 6,000 residents, who include numerous Jamaican and Filipino guest workers.

So plenty of McWhatevers still to go around on that Caribbean isle.

Besides ample sun and being surrounded by miles of barbed wire and numerous rapid-firing guns, the job at the fast-food franchise has a few perks. They include possible tax-free status for year-round residents and half your rent paid. No mention of salary in the Worker Wanted ad.

The Cuban Golden Arches is supplied with frozen food by barge from Jacksonville, Fla. And military guards have been authorized to bring in takeout Big Macs, etc., for the prisoners. The fast food has even been used as an inducement (or threat?) during interrogations, officials said. No doubt a dining dream come true for the alleged jihadists.

Assuming they're not watching their saturated fat intake.

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Less confidence in face of H1N1

As the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, continues to spread faster than the government's creaky distribution system can get out the vaccine, Americans' confidence in the Obama administration's ability to prevent a nationwide pandemic is crumbling.

A new CNN/Opinion Research Poll of 1,018 adult Americans finds that a shrinking number are very or somewhat confident about the Democratic administration's plans, while those lacking confidence are increasing.

Although much of the popular media's attention has been devoted to the congressional struggle and vote over costly healthcare reform legislation -- and then the Ft. Hood shooting that killed 13 and wounded dozens -- the threat of a pandemic claiming hundreds of lives looms as the kind of public disaster for Obama that the Bush administration's poor preparedness was after Hurricane Katrina.

Last month Obama declared a national emergency over the H1N1 flu potential.

But steady delays in manufacturing the vaccine and the federal government's distribution have continued. Deliveries of millions of doses have gone way beyond the original schedule. So late are deliveries that some medical experts say an epidemic will be well underway or over before all the doses become available in late December.

GOP Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, never a fan of big new government programs, has called this year's H1N1 preparations a "total failure." His belief seems to be spreading like a virus as well, with several polls showing that a majority of Americans now have no intention of getting the doses, even if and when they become available.

Now, the new CNN Poll, taken Oct. 30-Nov. 1 with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 points, finds that the proportion of Americans who are very confident that the Obama White House can prevent a pandemic has fallen from a meager 15% around Labor Day to a worse 11% now. The proportion of those feeling "somewhat confident" has dropped from 44% to 40%. Meanwhile, the proportion of those lacking any confidence has jumped to 49%, from 40%.

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andrew.malcolm@latimes.com

Top of the Ticket, The Times' blog on national politics ( www.latimes.com/ticket "> www.latimes.com/ticket ), is a blend of commentary, analysis and news. These are selections from the last week.

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