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News Wrap: Suicide Bomber Kills 21 Iraqis; Indonesia Tsunami Death Toll Climbs

October 29, 2010 at 5:50 PM EDT
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In other news Friday, a suicide bomber in northeast Baghdad killed 21 people. In Western Indonesia, the death toll from this week's tsunami topped 400, with 300 still missing and thousands homeless.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: President Obama hit the road again, starting a last round of campaign appearances before Election Day. And there was a last-minute development in the Florida Senate race. Ray Suarez has our report.

RAY SUAREZ: The economy was again topic A when the president appeared at a metal works plant in Beltsville, Maryland. He appealed to both parties to look beyond Election Day.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Political season’s going to be over soon. And, when it does, all of us are going to have a responsibility, Democrats and Republicans, to work together wherever we can to promote jobs and growth.

RAY SUAREZ: Mr. Obama called again for letting businesses deduct all of the costs of new equipment and other investments in a bid to get them hiring again.

Republicans shot back that the president’s policies have been the biggest impediment to recovery. Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor, the House’s third-ranking Republican, spoke in a conference call.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), House Minority Whip: The people expect leadership that will deliver results. And that’s why this election now has come down to the frustration that we’re seeing across this country, and, obviously, in the Fifth District.

RAY SUAREZ: That’s Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District, where first-term Democrat Tom Perriello is locked in a tight reelection race. The president will attend a rally for him tonight. From there, in his role as campaigner in chief, he goes on to stump in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Illinois, and Ohio over the next three days, hoping to minimize Democratic losses Tuesday.

That final swing will not include Florida, where a new disclosure roiled the three-way U.S. Senate race. Former President Clinton acknowledged he had spoken with Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek about quitting the race and throwing his support behind Governor Charlie Crist, who’s running as an independent.

Both men are trailing Republican Marco Rubio. And Mr. Clinton said Meek wanted to talk about bowing out.

BILL CLINTON, former president of the United States: He thought that there were the majority of the people who did not want Mr. Rubio to win the Senate seat, and he was concerned about it, and he was trying to determine what was the best thing for him to do.

RAY SUAREZ: But Meek denied that he ever considered stepping aside or ever agreed to do so.

REP. KENDRICK MEEK (D-Fla.), senatorial candidate: The president and I talked about it. You know, I told him I didn’t have any thoughts of getting out of the race. He didn’t encourage me to get out of the race.

RAY SUAREZ: Republicans charged the Democrats had engaged in the kind of cynical maneuvering that Americans want to be rid of.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The economy grew at a slightly faster pace last summer, 2 percent. The Commerce Department reported the increase today. It was due mainly to increased consumer spending.

But, on Wall Street, the major indexes were largely unchanged. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 4.5 points to close at 11118. The Nasdaq rose just a fraction of a point to close at 2507. For the month, the Dow gained more than 3 percent; the Nasdaq rose nearly 6 percent.

At least 21 Iraqis died today when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a cafe northeast of Baghdad. The attack broke a period of relative calm across Iraq in recent weeks.

And, in Afghanistan, another NATO soldier died in fighting with insurgents. That made at least 57 coalition fatalities this month.

The death toll from the tsunami in Western Indonesia has now topped 400. Three hundred others are still missing, and bad weather hampered search efforts today. Some humanitarian aid did manage to trickle in to the remote island

chain that was devastated on Monday. It is estimated that 13,000 people there were left homeless. Meanwhile, a volcano on Indonesia’s Java Island erupted five more times today. There were no reports of new damage or casualties.

Iran agreed today to resume talks on its nuclear program, for the first time in more than a year. The Iranian government sent a letter to the European Union, saying it is ready to begin meeting after November 10. The U.N. imposed tougher sanctions on the regime earlier this year. Iran has insisted its uranium enrichment is for peaceful purposes only.

French unions have voted to end strikes at oil refineries and major seaports. The strikes had targeted pension reforms, but President Nicolas Sarkozy pushed the measures through Parliament this week. At one point, all 12 of the country’s refineries were closed, and 80 ships were left stranded outside idle ports.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.